Start Your Cruising Adventure With John Neal

By: Cruising Tips, online course

This month American Sailing is offering a free online class on how to start your sailing adventure. After all, you can’t keep fantasizing about sailing forever. Now is the time to make it happen. You’ll learn everything from finding the right boat to sailing it safely around the globe. 

The Course: How To Start Your Cruising Adventure

Course Description:  An Online Class Based On Lessons Learned From 400,000 Miles of Cruising Offshore. 90 Minute Online Class. On-Demand Replay Available. Learn how to find, purchase, and outfit a boat worthy of sailing offshore. Plus tips on working within your budget, qualifying for insurance, and how to sail safely anywhere in the world.

Get More Info On The Course

John Neal, a veteran of over 400,000 offshore miles, is hosting this course and sat down with American Sailing to tell us more about himself. 

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American Sailing: You have logged over 400,000 offshore miles. Is there any one thing that you can predict about offshore cruising?
John Neal

John Neal: It will always be changing, evolving, and challenging.

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American Sailing: What major factor must inexperienced sailors understand when planning to cruise offshore?
John Neal
John Neal: That the transition from local/coastal cruiser to liveaboard sailor and then to ocean passage making takes time. Insurance companies are enforcing this now, with most requiring 2-3 years of boat ownership on the same type of vessel within 10-12’ in length.
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American Sailing: Where have your sailing adventures taken you and is there one destination that eludes you?
John Neal
John Neal: To virtually every island group in the South Pacific from Panama and Cape Horn to Australia, six times through the Caribbean, Patagonia, Antarctica (to the edge of the ice pack), Spitsbergen, Iceland, Faroes, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Europe, the Med, Morocco, Canaries, Azores, Madeira, Panama and I’m sure several others I’ve missed. The one destination that eluded me for 23 years was St. Kilda, 34 miles NW of Scotland. It is a hauntingly beautiful and challenging island that is now uninhabited.
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American Sailing: What is in your top three sailing destinations?
John Neal
John Neal: The Azores are fabulous for steady winds and fabulous exploring ashore. Fiji has some of the friendliest people and best diving in the world and New Zealand is just plain fabulous for cruisers.
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American Sailing: You have sailed aboard Mahina Tiare III, a Hallberg-Rassy 46, for many of your offshore courses, what makes that vessel ideal for sharing your cruising knowledge with students?
John Neal
John Neal: Stiff, fast (209 miles in 24 hrs) and able to sail 220,000 miles (9 times around the world equivalent, much of that time in high latitudes) in 23 years without failures. Also the ability to comfortably accommodate six students and two instructors for extended expeditions of up to five weeks and 4,500 miles.
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American Sailing: Can you give us a brief idea of what you hope to impart upon students from American Sailing?
John Neal
John Neal: First – an overview of what is involved in undertaking a grand offshore sailing adventure, and then specific skills and tips to make extended cruising safe, comfortable and FUN!
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American Sailing: Tell us about the courses you are hosting for American Sailing.
John Neal
John Neal: 1. How to Start Your Cruising Adventures: this is the big picture of what it takes to turn your dream of extended cruising into reality.
2. Boat Buying 101: An overview of the purchase process, 20 qualities of an ideal cruising boat, boat design & construction and then a sample of good offshore boats starting at $40,000.
3. Shorthanded Sailing Techniques: Tips to make sailing easier if you’re just sailing with one or two aboard, or singlehanded.
4. Worldwide Anchoring Techniques: I’ll expose you to some techniques you’ve not heard of before that can be invaluable in certain situations and conditions.
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American Sailing: How did you start sailing?
John Neal
John Neal: I bought a little plastic sailing dinghy when I was about 12. It came with a single page of instructions that I used to teach myself. When I was 21 I took sailing lessons in Seattle and then by 22 I set sail across the Pacific on a Albin Vega 27.
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American Sailing: If you could attract more sailors to the sailing lifestyle what would be your strategy?
John Neal
John Neal: Sharing how exhilarating it is to be living a simplified, less stressful life on a boat, surrounded by all of the beauty of nature, and to have untold adventures at one’s fingertips. I’ve always viewed cruising sailboats as magic carpets that can take you anywhere in the world you choose.
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American Sailing: What is more exhilarating, setting the anchor and heading to shore for a new adventure or raising the anchor and setting offshore?
John Neal
John Neal: Wow, that’s a tough question – I’d say they are equally exhilarating.

John Neal’s 400,000 offshore miles include six Cape Horn roundings plus expeditions to Antarctica, Africa, Australia, and Spitsbergen. Since 1976, John’s passion has been sharing his ocean cruising knowledge through 204 sail training expeditions aboard Mahina Tiare III, a Hallberg-Rassy 46 and various other yachts. John is author, co-author or contributing author of 17 books including Log of the Mahina. When John’s not at sea leading sail-training expeditions he teaches Mahina Offshore Cruising Workshops and offers boat purchase consultation services. Details on mahina.com

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