Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore sailing seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions, Offshore Cruising Training

offshore sailing expeditions

Sail aboard Mahina Tiare III, a Halberg Rassy 46, for a dynamic and unique hands-on learning experience with John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal.

With a combined experience of 622,000 miles and 77 years John and Amanda's unique curriculum attracts highly motivated sailors wanting to master ocean voyaging skills including seamanship, navigation and heavy weather tactics.

As a Mahina Expeditions graduate you will have the skillls and ability to sail anywhere on your own.

Realize your dream of casting off and sailing the seven seas by making an expedition on Mahina Tiare the first leg of your journey. We launched Mahina Tiare III in 1997 and 2015 marks the 26th consecutive year that we have conducted sail training expeditions. To date more than 1,000 students have joined us and we've sailed a total of 257,000 miles during expeditions.

You are offered...

Offshore Cruising Expeditions Reefing

The opportunity to increase your confidence and safety level by gaining the experience of an extended ocean passage and use of storm sailing tactics.

The chance to be actively involved in all aspects of operating and maintaining a modern ocean-cruising boat including steering and standing watches, sail trim and reefing, anchoring, provisioning, meal preparation, cleaning and ongoing maintenance of the vessel.

The opportunity to experience ocean cruising so that you can decide if this is the lifestyle for you. Following the completion of an expedition you will have the knowledge to make better informed decisions regarding purchasing and outfitting your own boat.

You will be provided with . . .

  • Three to six hours of dedicated, focused, hands-on instruction per day.

  • A 103 page Expedition Companion documenting all aspects of instruction.

  • Our commitment to answer all of your questions and concerns relating to ocean voyaging.

  • A stimulating and exciting learning environment designed to help you master heavy weather storm sailing techniques, coastal, celestial and electronic navigation and boat handling.

  • Three healthy and nutritious meals daily utilizing local ingredients when possible.

Accommodations, Equipment and Food. . .

Mahina Tiare III has four separate cabins with a total of nine berths, two private heads and three showers, a saloon that can comfortably seat eight for dinner, an efficient sea-going galley and a sturdy hardtop dodger. Each expedition member has their own bunk (couples have private cabins) and private storage lockers. Although Mahina Tiare III can accommodate up to nine persons, limiting participation to six co-adventurers ensures more comfort and privacy.

Mahina Tiare III was built to our specifications under Lloyd's of London supervision by one of the world's finest boatbuilders. For a detailed description of Hallberg Rassy, check out their website at www.hallberg-rassy.com. A Germán Frers design with long waterline, modern underbody and powerful sailplan make our HR 46 a comfortable, easily-driven and powerful offshore boat.

For windless days, a 95 h.p. Volvo diesel engine provides 7.5 to 8.3 knots under power. Mahina Tiare III is equipped with an eight-person liferaft, extensive first aid supplies, INMARSAT-C and Iridium worldwide satellite communication system, 4 EPIRB's (emergency radios), 48 mile radar, sextant, 4 global position systems, 4 VHF radios, marine SSB radio, weatherfax, Navtex, extensive instrumentation, 3 bilge pumps, automatic and manual fire extinguishers, float vests for each person, manual and electric watermakers and 265 gallons of water. Heat is provided by two independent forced air furnace. The tender is a rigid- bottom Avon R.I.B. 3.41 with 15 hp outboard.

Instructors/Expedition Leaders. . .

John & Amanda

John and AmandaJohn Neal was born on the banks of Africa's Blue Nile River. At the age of 22 his love of adventure and travel fueled a desire to sail to the South Pacific from Seattle aboard his 27' sloop. Log of Mahina chronicled his voyage and adventures and became a best seller. To answer the question he was frequently asked, “How can I do what you did?” he conducted his first of now 156 Offshore Cruising Seminars in 1976. In 1990, to meet the demand for hands-on offshore instruction, John established Mahina Expeditions with the goal of sharing his knowledge of ocean voyaging in a safe and supportive environment. John has conducted 171 sail-training expeditions aboard his Hallbery-Rassy 42, Mahina Tiare II & his Hallberg-Rassy 46, Mahina Tiare III, sailing 332,000 miles in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Patagonia, Antarctica, Atlantic, Scandinavia and the Arctic. John holds a USCG 100 ton Master’s License.

Amanda Swan Neal grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and sailed to Vancouver as a teenager aboard a 38’ sloop she helped her parents build. Upon returning to New Zealand, she became a sailmaker for Hoods and transferred professions to rigging with Noake’s Rigging in Sydney, Australia then Southern Spars in NZ. In 1990 she completed The Whitbread Around the World Race (now The Volvo Race) as rigger aboard Maiden, the first all-women Whitbread boat. Amanda’s 290,000 miles of international sailing include two Sydney-Hobart Races, numerous international regattas and seven Cape Horn roundings intermixed with a ten year involvement in tall ship sail-training. Upon meeting John in 1994 she joined Mahina Tiare for the Cape Horn and Antarctic expeditions. She is author of The Essential Galley Companion and since 2005 has written the monthly Galley Essentials column in 48 North magazine. Amanda enjoys introducing women to the joys of the cruising lifestyle and her personal interests include Celtic step dancing, photography, triathlon training and sewing. She holds a NZ Commercial Launchmaster’s license.

Amanda and John spend seven months at sea annually. When not at sea, they enjoy winter kayaking from their island home near Victoria.

Magazines Contributed to: Blue Water Sailing, Australian Yachting, Cruising World, Yachting World (UK),Cruising Helmsman (Australia), 48 North, Latitude 38, SAIL and Practical Sailor.

Books Authored: The Essential Galley Companion (Amanda), Log of the Mahina, Mahina Tiare, Pacific Passages (John), Offshore Cruising Companion, Offshore Expedition Companion, Storm Survival Tactics (John and Amanda)

Books Contributed to: World Voyage Planner, World Cruising Survey by Jimmy Cornell, Surviving the Storm by Steve Dashew, Voyager’s Handbook by Beth A. Leonard, Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die by Chris Santella.

Areas of Experience: Caribbean, Mexico, Atlantic including Azores, Canaries, and Madeira, Patagonia (Chile and Argentina), Cape Horn (six roundings), Antarctica, Brazil, Uruguay, Pacific including Galapagos, Easter, Pitcairn, Fr. Polynesia, Cooks, Samoa, Tonga, Wallis, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Alaska, British Columbia. Europe including the Med, Ireland, England, Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, Norway, Spitsbergen, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Physical Ability, Health, Safety and Learning . . .

Safe and enjoyable voyaging on Mahina Tiare depends on everyone working together in all situations, some of which are strenuous and mentally demanding. A good level of fitness and an enthusiastic mental attitude are necessary. It is essential than everyone is capable of performing all duties aboard, including standing while hand steering (we don't use an autopilot) and working on deck in challenging conditions. If you exercise daily, enjoy outdoor activities, are comfortable in and on the water, are in good mental health and are not significantly overweight you will be an asset on board. Expedition members come from many countries and backgrounds, ranging in age from 16 to 60. This is not a macho adventure as women are equal and valued participants.

At sea we follow strict safety rules, including the wearing of harnesses by everyone while on deck, practice of Lifesling man-overboard procedures and abstinence from alcohol. No smoking or illegal drugs aboard or ashore are allowed. Daily cleaning and continual maintenance, even on ocean passages, assures that Mahina Tiare III is always safe and in first class condition.

Out of courtesy to others, we ask that iPads, tablets, computers, phones and other personal electronic devices not be used aboard.

We understand that people have different methods of learning; most are either tactile or conceptual/technical learners. We cater to tactile learners with hands-on repetition such as tucking in a reef, charting, setting the anchor, etc. and to conceptual/technical learners with explanation, documentation and procedures.

With a professional background in coaching and sail-training, Amanda is continually researching women’s learning methods. Cruising World Magazine commissioned her to write a four-part series titled, “How Women Learn under Sail”.

Offshore CruisingSelection Process . . .

Our goal is to form crews that work and learn well together. Applicants are considered on the basis of their eagerness to learn and particpate in all aspects of shipboard life including navigation, seamanship, helming, sail handling, storm tactics, anchoring and engine maintenance.

As our focus is teaching ocean passage making, we require that you have at least intermediate sailing skills and know that you enjoy sailing. We do not expect you to be an expert sailor but we require that you have completed a coastal navigation course.

If you have questions regarding your present skill level, please contact us.

We highly recommend that you attend our Mahina Offshore Cruising Seminar, to jump start your ocean learning experience.

The best crews enjoy having fun together while learning and sharing the sailing adventure, sense of community and discovery that are always a part of Mahina Tiare's voyages.

Impact . . .

Our goal is to have a positive impact upon the places we visit and the people we meet. We started bringing medical supplies and doctors to clinics in the South Pacific in 1974. Since 1992, we have provided text books, a photocopier and typewriter for a small school in Fiji and in 2012 & 2013 we supplied requested school books and supplies for schools on three islands in Vanuatu.

In 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2008 we have provided school supplies for the San Blas Island school in Panama. Your assistance is welcomed in providing reading glasses, tooth brushes and school supplies for villagers in Panama's San Blas Islands in 2015.

We provision with the least amount of plastic as possible as there are no possibilities for recycling in many of the places we visit.

Mahina Tiare has two holding tanks which we use when not offshore. Expedition members are asked not to collect shells, coral or sea life. We go to great lengths to avoid damaging coral when anchoring. You are invited to join us for at least one beach cleanup per expedition.

If you have questions or would like to apply for an expedition aboard Mahina Tiare

Contact Mahina Expeditions, sailing@mahina.com P.O. Box 1596, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, (360) 378-6131, fax (360) 378-6331to see if there are berths available on the passage you would like to sail, and to request an application form. You may also click here (www.mahina.com/sailingsched2.html) to obtain berth availability and information, or to apply online by clicking here to download the application as a Word Document and here as an Adobe PDF. To view current and past expedition log entries, click here.

We would like to meet you before acceptance, if possible, and strongly recommend that you attend our Mahina Offshore Cruising Seminar and review past expedition log entries.



Payment schedule:

1. Mail in your application with a deposit check of US $500. Non US residents please contact us regarding alternative methods: credit card or bank transfer of payment. Your deposit check will be returned promptly if the expeditions you requested are full or your application is declined.

2. If you are accepted, your second deposit, bringing the deposit total to 50% of the expedition cost will be due 15 days after the date on your acceptance letter or by January 1st of the calendar year of your expedition, whichever date is later.

3. The final payment (50% of total) is due 150 days before the start of your expedition.

4. A $250 late fee is charged for payments received more than seven days late.

The cost of Mahina Tiare Sailing Expeditions includes: instruction, food, fuel, custom and port fees. It does not include your airfare, visas, departure taxes, personal expenses of any kind, or personal insurance of any kind. You're welcome to contact Michael Henrichs at US Travel, 1-877-429-5787, email: michael_henrichs@travelctm.com, who can provide you with the least expensive and most efficient air travel arrangements.

Cancellation Policy

Full refund less $500 non-refundable and non-transferrable deposit if we receive written notification more than 150 days prior to departure, providing that we are able to re-book your berth(s). Within 150 days prior to departure, no refund, credit or transfer can be made for any reason including illness.

Travel and Trip Cancellation Insurance

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and trip cancellation insurance and recommend .

Offshore Sail Training Objectives:

Safety Systems Checkout

  • Locate and practice donning of life jackets. Selecting a safety harness.
  • View liferaft video, practice launching liferaft.
  • Location and inventory of survival packs (3), manual watermaker, EPIRB'S (4), handheld VHF marine and aircraft radios (6).
  • Discussion of equipment list for assembling your own survival packs.
  • Deployment and use of highlifelines vs. deck jacklines.
  • Location and testing of three separate bilge pump systems and bilge high water alarm.
  • Location of thru-hull fittings and attached wooden plugs. Discussion of maintenance.
  • Location and use of emergency tiller.
  • Use and test of propane alarm and solenoid; safe use of stove and oven, and appropriate spares.
  • Location and inventory of Adventure Medical Marine kit. Discussion of prevention and treatment of medical problems common to cruisers in tropical and isolated waters.

Boat Systems Checkout

  • Use and maintenance of electric watermakers.
  • Survey of battery charging and monitoring systems. Discussion of alternative power options.
  • Use, cleaning and maintenance of marine heads.
  • Use, maintenance and servicing a marine diesel engine and outboard engine.
  • Spare parts: engine, outboard, electrical, refrigeration watermaker. What you should carry on your boat.
  • Provisioning in foreign ports and stowage of food goods. Meal planning and cooking underway.
Offshore Cruising Seminar

On Deck Procedures

  • Steering by compass and stars during night watch.
  • Raising, reefing and stowing mainsail including use of lazy jacks, rigid vang and preventer.
  • Use of a furling and reefable headsail.
  • Demonstrate points of sail and sail trim.
  • Pre-departure, pre-passage and daily rigging checks including chafe prevention.
  • Working safely aloft. Each person may go aloft at anchor or in port with a safety line attached.
  • Location of spare rigging and fittings. Emergency rigging repair procedures.
  • Sail repair: sewing sailcloth.
  • Use of palm and needle and Sailrite sewing machine.
  • Dismantle, service and reassemble one and two speed winches.
  • Demonstrate properly belaying a line to a cleat, coiling short and long lines, bowline, reef knot, slippery hitch and figure eight knots.
  • Splicing three-strand nylon line and dacron yacht braid. Installing a soft eye on yacht braid line.

Storm Sailing Techniques

  • Rig storm staysail, running backstays, storm trysail.
  • Practice heaving to, deploy tow warps astern.
  • Deployment of Galerider drogue and discussion of Para-Tech sea anchor.
  • Discuss Queen's Birthday Storm results and most effective storm management techniques for different hull designs and sea conditions.
  • Preparation for storm conditions: locate storm sails, check bilge and pumps, clear decks and cockpit, charge batteries, preparation of easy meals, catch up on sleep.

Meteorology

  • Sources of marine weather: VHF, SSB, Navtex, GRIBfiles, INMARSAT-C, airports.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify and explain the features of: high pressure, low pressure, warm fronts, cold fronts, occluded fronts, stationary fronts, convergence zones, ridges, troughs.
  • Overall cruise planning: cyclone seasons, use of Pilot Charts, World Cruising Routes.
  • Locating weatherfax.
  • Programming Furuno weather facsimile and navtex receivers.
  • Effect of El Nino and La Nina on tropical cruising areas.
  • Overall prevailing world weather systems and predicting and gauging surface current and drift.

Navigation

  • Chart selection and organization. Selecting best nationality of chart to cover a specific area.
  • Use of BA and US Chart #1, Sailing Directions, Light List, Cruising Guides.
  • Determining course, distance, VMG and ETA.
  • Coastal Navigation: plotting course and determining dead reckoning position, depths, dangers, currents and obstructions.
  • Celestial Navigation: Use and calibration of a sextant, shooting, reducing and plotting a LAN.
  • Use of Nautical Almanac, HO 229, constructing and plotting on a universal plotting sheet.
  • Electronic Navigation: Use both MFD and laptop charting systems, discussion of accuracy of charts relative to GPS positions.
  • Use of radar and AIS for collision avoidance, landfall and squall avoidance.

Communication

  • Use of VHF and SSB radios and Iridium SatPhone for communication and distress.
  • Programming and use of INMARSAT-C satellite communication system.
  • Discussion of various communication options for long distance cruisers.
  • Dealing with officialdom in foreign ports: health, customs, immigration, port authorities.

Anchoring

  • Selecting best type of anchor and rode for varying conditions.
  • Calculating scope and diameter of swing.
  • Identifying best location for least contact with coral or rocks.
  • Setting a second bow anchor.
  • Safe use of electric windlass, use of manual back-up feature.
  • Marking and stowing chain and use of a chain snubber.


"For years we've urged our readers and clients to get real world experience before making major decisions on the cruising life style, their boats, or equipment. There's nothing like time spent living offshore and at anchor to clarify the issues, and one of the most efficient ways to do that is with John and Amanda aboard Mahina Tiare."
-Steve Dashew
Sailor, boat designer and author of Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia,Surviving the Storm and Mariner's Weather Handbook

Mahina Expeditions


P.O. BOX 1596, FRIDAY HARBOR, WA. USA 98250
PHONE (360) 378-6131 FAX (360) 378-6331

Expedition Application
Sea Bag List Temperate Legs 12/2014
Sea Bag List Tropical Legs 12/2014

The Challenges of Seasickness
Frequently Asked Questions
Communications Form
Reading List


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MAHINA EXPEDITIONS
P.O. BOX 1596
Friday Harbor, WA. USA 98250
PHONE (360) 378-6131
FAX (360) 378-6331
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