Tom Neale got his first boat at age 9, and since then he's had well over two dozen, ranging from kayaks to a 53' motor sailer. He started cruising at around 13, heading down the river in his 18' skiff and 5 hp outboard, anchoring in quiet marshy creeks, sleeping under a tent. By the age of 16 he was taking trips for weeks at a time around the Chesapeake, in another 18' skiff, sporting an ancient 25 hp outboard on the stern and a rickety home built plywood cabin on the bow. College and a profession as trial lawyer didn't change his love of the water, which is shared by Mel, his wife, who has also boated since early childhood. Each weekend, each vacation, every opportunity, they took off on a series of boats, ranging from a small power cruiser to a 41' sailboat.
In 1979 they moved aboard a 47' motor sailer. Soon thereafter came two daughters and the beginning of an unequaled cruising saga. Since then they've averaged 3,000 to 5,000 miles per year in their boats. They've performed most of the maintenance and repairs themselves, on many types of pleasure boats. Their skills have ranged from fixing torn welds in an aluminum dinghy to a major blister job on a 47' boat, from outboard repairs to diesel repairs, from fixing broken oars to mending torn sails, from making alcohol camping stoves cook only what you want to cook to making an electric oven rotisserie turn a chicken evenly on a rolling boat in the Atlantic. Their cruising experiences have covered most types of boating and they are still living aboard and cruising.
They educated their two daughters aboard, from kindergarten through high school. Both have graduated from college, married and have jobs. One has a daughter, the other a son. Tom and Mel are Grand Parents.
Over the years, Tom has spoken at boat shows, yacht clubs, and other groups around the country and in Canada . A few of these include the Sailing Adventure" Series in California, "The International Sailors' Series" in Toronto, and the Safety at Sea Seminars at the U.S. Naval Academy. He's led and taught during group cruises, and he and Mel have conducted their "Cruising School" in numerous locations. He's also served as Editor at Large, On Watch Columnist and Boat of the Year Judge and Coordinator for Cruising World Magazine. He founded a cruising newsletter, Cruising Coast and Islands, he's written the book All in the Same Boat published by McGraw Hill and Chesapeake Bay Cruising Guide, Upper Bay, published by Wescott Cove Publishing Company, and written for various other magazines. Tom is Technical Editor for Soundings for which he writes the column “Sea Savvy.” He is also Contributing Editor for BoatUS Magazine and coordinates the “Ask the Experts” group. He’s won 9 First Place writing awards from “Boating Writers International” as well as numerous other awards. He makes people laugh, he inspires people to do more with their boats, and he teaches them things that you can only learn from doing it as long and as much as he has.
Tom's now been at it almost 60 years, not as a hobby, but as his life's passion. He's going to share this experience and his knowledge with you, so that you can have more fun cruising, whether on weekends in the lake in a small boat, or for years in a long range boat.