I leave on Monday night for my Mahina Expedition. In this post I’ll explain what exactly it is, and what I’ll be doing.
It’s an offshore sail training expedition on a 46-ft sailboat named Mahina Tiare, which will teach all aspects of blue-water cruising. The brochure states that it offers:
“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.”
These expeditions are run by John & Amanda Neal, who have sailed 308,000 miles since 1989, leading 210 sail-training expeditions worldwide. Charlie & I took their 2-day Offshore Cruising seminar several years ago.
I’ll be on this expedition with 5 other sailors from around the world, none of whom I’ve ever met. 😉I’m doing this on my own – Charlie decided not to go, for a couple reasons. First, he’s already got far more blue-water cruising experience than I do, and has the knowledge and skills he needs. Whereas my experience is more limited, and I have much still to learn. Charlie feels I’m about 75% there…this expedition should fill in the gaps. Second, it’s important that I learn these things on my own…it’s very common among couples for the man to tend to take over the “heavy lifting” so to speak, but I need to be able to do everything he can do, without his help.
So, where am I going? See our full itinerary below. Our expedition is Leg 4 of their 2019 South Pacific season. We’ll be starting on the island of Samoa, sailing to Wallis Island, then on to Savusavu on Vanua Levu (one of the Fiji islands), Makogai Island, Volivoli Bay on the main island of Fiji, Ba Fiji, ending in Vuda Marina, Fiji. We will sail a total of 900 miles over the course of 15 days, including a few multi-day passages.
This is NOT a vacation! This is a serious educational exercise, and while I expect I’ll have a blast, the point is for me to immerse myself in the experience and soak up all the knowledge I can. Each day will have 3 to 6 hours of focused, dedicated, hands-on training. I will do middle-of-the-night watches, I will cook, clean, trim sails, navigate…each of us gets a chance to do each job. But we will also have time to snorkel, beach-walk, go for runs on remote islands, explore tiny waterfront towns, visit villages and deliver school supplies to local communities, maybe even attend a traditional ceremony or two.
I also have two days at a hotel in Samoa before the excursion, and two days in Fiji afterwards, to rest, relax and explore.
How do I feel right now? OVERWHELMED! I’m excited beyond measure, but I’m also a bit scared. I worry that I don’t know enough. I worry about seasickness (I’ve got meds with me so I should be fine, but…). I worry that I won’t measure up. I worry that I’ll do something stupid. But I also know that these are just normal fears, and once I’m on it, everything will be fine. And I’ll come home chock full of the kind of hands-on knowledge and skills that will make our upcoming journey that much safer, smarter, and…FUN!
I don’t know how much access to internet I will have. I may or may not be able to post updates…if I can, I will. I’m bringing my GoPro so I will shoot footage along the way, and will make a video episode once I’m home.
Here is a link to a map on Google Earth that will show exactly where we are all along the way:
If you click on it now, you will see the path that Mahina Tiare sailed on the prior legs of this season, from Auckland, NZ, up through French Polynesia, to the Cook Islands, and on to Apia, Samoa, where they are currently waiting for us.
In the meantime, as they say in Samoa, Tōfā soifua! (Good bye). And as they say in Fiji, Bula! (Health and life!)