Once we decided that cruising fit our bucket list, what better way to test our interest and commitment to serious sailing than to get out to sea for an extended period of time.
So, we signed up for the Mahina Expedition with John and Amanda Neal for the South Pacific Leg 2, a favorite of many cruisers. Beginning in Tahiti and ending in Rarotonga, this 950 nautical miles trip offered overnight crossings, entering atolls through swift coral cuts and visiting sparsely populated, rarely visited islands like Mopelia and Maupiti, along with the popular Bora Bora and Moorea.
Not only did the Expedition offer a beautiful and challenging offshore experience, but also an additional 3 hours of classroom instruction each day on the Neal's 46' Hallberg Rassy. We came away with a Certification of Competency for Ocean Cruising, which is well recognized by insurance providers. It was money and time well spent in our pursuit of cruising.
It truly was one of the highlights of our life, and we are still great friends with the other 4 crew members: Monty and Margy from Canada, Brad and Suellen from Australia, and Stewart from Los Angeles—all who we fondly now call "Mahina Mates".
From this valuable experience we learned 3 things about ourselves:
We both need more offshore experience
We don't want to cruise full time
We'd like to explore cruising catamarans
Well wouldn't you know it...shortly after returning home, some unique opportunities presented themselves that pointed us in the right direction...