Mahina Expeditions is a round-the-world program run by Tom and Amanda Neal aboard Mahina Tiare, their HallbergRassy 46. The program is billed as “ocean passagemaking with expert instruction” and among the cruising community, the duo has reached rock star status with their seminars, books and educational cruises. Each year they spend seven months at sea ,covering 10,000 miles with students who come to learn and dream of heading out on their own boat in the future.
At press time, Mahina Tiare had just arrived in the Canary Islands after a multi-leg tour from Sweden to Morocco. From there, they planned to press on to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and down to the South Pacific, where they hope to do some loops in 2018 between Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia. The trips include a hands-on curriculum of storm sailing tactics, boathandling, and coastal, celestial and electronic navigation. Legs last from seven to 21 days, although most excursions are two weeks, and paying guests are limited to six persons. Applicants should have some basics in sail trim, rules of the road and coastal navigation. Pre-study is encouraged, at minimum in the form of online NauticEd courses, as well as by attending some of Tom and Amanda’s seminars. Women are encouraged to sign up and are equal participants aboard. Crew ages range from 16 to 70.
When asked what advice he might have for potential students seeking an appropriate expedition, Tom says, “It’s important to learn how long the operator has been in business and how serious they are about safety and ethics.” Mahina Tiare III was launched in 2007, but 2017 marks the 28th consecutive year of the Neals’ sail-training expeditions. With a focus on preserving the environment in which they operate, they invite their students to join in at least one beach cleanup per expedition, and they often bring much needed school supplies to remote island villages.
Planning is key as spots fill quickly. “We tend to have people book as much as one or two years ahead for our South Pacific expedition legs,” says Neal.
Mahina Expeditions, mahina.com