Neal Petersen public free event Asheville, NC

South African- born, Neal Petersen is a world-class professional solo racing yachtsman, global investor, award-winning author of Journey of a Hope Merchant and the subject of a PBS documentary. Petersen has faced many challenges in life – poverty, discrimination, childhood disability and other insurmountable barriers – and he always responded by looking for opportunities and solutions to achieve his dream. His experience shows that imagination coupled with determination to achieve, can break through the toughest challenges. Neal completed the 1998-99 “Around Alone” the most dangerous extreme sport in the world, a 27,000 mile yacht race, 9 months at sea – alone, and in a yacht he designed and built himself.

In sharing his high-impact, unique and extraordinary adventure, Neal delivers a powerful message that “In Life There Are No Barriers – Only Solutions!”

Following the event will be a book signing. All including children welcome.

You are invited to this free event:
Saturday August 16th
Black Dome Mountain Sports
140 Tunnel Road
Asheville, NC 28805

Visit to Grenada Prison

Every island nation has a prison and some are located within the most incredible real estate with high value views. Grenada is one such island, but no Devil’s Island with cliffs and strong currents. Instead it’s an old fort looking down on Grenada’s capital, St. George and the Caribbean Sea. The prison spans a steep hill and on the opposite slopes are well maintained vegetable gardens and assorted animals being raised for both prison consumption and excess sold to the community. Arrangements to speak at the prison were made in partnership with the American Embassy. Crowded with a population of 482, Darlene and I were escorted from the Commissioner’s office by the Superintendant of Prisons from the administration building down a steep unpaved road passing several buildings to the prison gate where a buzzer was wrung. The officer in charge opened the main gate, a large rough hewn wooden door, saluted the Superintendent as he stated the number of inmates in residence before welcoming us through.

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Economic future via youth sailing

We travel to various locations, recently Trinidad to look at the impact of youth sailing programs and understand if there is a correlation on the marine industry and what is the possible impact on small island nations or coastal countries.

While in Power Boats yard, Trinidad, a friendship was forged and a request to speak at Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association, TTSA, where we previously had anchored. Youth sailing in Trinidad is on the decline our new friend wanted me to inspire what youth I could at the sailing school, but I decided that this could go wider and hopefully have a much larger impact. I want to understand what is happening with youth, how sailings impacts their lives and a counties economy. It was time to go digging and working.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Paul is the sailing program coordinator at TTSA, from the UK, married to a local woman and trying to make as large a contribution to this community possible. He became a close ally and educator pointing us in the right direction and organizing our needs. Trinidad gets the majority of its revenue from oil related services of oil wells with its lucrative revenues, jobs in the industry from service, construction and oil management, shipping, exploration. The revenues are immense, but unfortunately – only enjoyed by the top 2-3 % of the country and does not trickle down to the working-class person. Most people support this industry but are not huge earners from it as in Middle Easter oil states. Trinidad unlike its sister neighboring island, Tobago, has very little tourism other than yachting tourism. Boats come here for refits and maintenance work as it is outside of the hurricane belt. Continue reading

Boat work Trinidad

A quick look at where to go, who to deal with based on our experiences in Trinidad.

The marine industry is a funny business. Owning a boat is a costly affair that grows more and more as the boat ages. It is a never ending process of spending money. The fast way to have fun with boats is if one starts with a sizable amount of funds, and loves watching it dwindle very much like holding water in ones palms. We beat ourselves up sailing, and then do it with all the work that is required to beat ourselves up again. Laying upside down in the engine room smelling leaky oil that sloshes in the build wanting to make us seasick, or up the mast rolling around like we are flying with the birds, 70 foot above the deck held up there on webbing to a thin piece of line we call the mast halyard. And we keep doing it year over year, calling it fun. Fun it can be. There are the vast periods of boredom sparkled with brief periods of sheer adrenalin, caused by either great joyous moments, or just sheer terror. And then it comes to that tedious maintenance plan.
This year to ease the maintenance plan, we sailed down to Power Boats, a ship yard in Trinidad run by a fellow catamaran owner, sailor and really a great yard manager, Don. haulout4 Continue reading


The last few months have been fairly hectic. Our granddaughter, Shelby and her mom, Heather, spent 5 months living on board “El Gecco” with us. We sailed from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, then on to the US Virgin Islands, Anguilla and to St. Martin on the French side where they left and returned to living ashore. The voyage was filled with ups and downs, equipment failures on board, but we met some wonderful people along the way. Customs in Anguilla has been among the best so far on this trip. Their island depends on tourism and hence they have made the entry process easy, though they limit where one can overnight in anchorages to preserve their reefs. Customs regarded themselves as an extension of their tourist office, willing to make taxi or car reservations, telling us what we must see. I had engine issues and they had a coast guard person come out right away to help me resolve my issue at no cost. Continue reading

Re-uniting with Bill Pinkney

More people have traveled to outer space than sailed alone around the world via the Southern Oceans. Of all the tens of billions of people who have lived on this planet, less than 300 people have circumnavigated the planet via Cape Horn. Here is a conversation with two such people, Neal Petersen and Bill Pinkney.

TEDx Reno Appearance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATEDx8We had a very successful time in Reno, NV on our first TEDx experience. Great team to work with, standing ovation after my address and we spent a lot of time in the community giving four more talks at the University of Nevada, addressing Microsoft’s licensing office and spending the day at Carson Montessori School. Continue reading

Goodbye Madiba

Today is another sad day in our world with the loss of Madiba. Nelson Mandela is a man who has shown that change is possible, that transitions can happen peacefully and that there is room for forgiveness. I did not agree with all his policies, but I respected this leader that I had hoped to have met, but was not possible. He hosted my Mother and has had ties to my family as President. He has been an icon and now may he finally rest. His job in South Africa has not been totally completed, but he took on the lion’s share of the work. We will continue that job. His sacrifices were not in vain. Thank you Madiba for your sacrifices you have made for our country and its entire people.


This may be a sad day as we make our final farewell to my mother, Dr. Stella Petersen, but it is also a celebration of a life fully lived. A life that has been, not only impactful, but significant for so many. Let us not be sad, but recognize what we were given by this incredibly passionate and selfless woman. She was more than my Mother; she was my teacher, my inspiration, my hero. Though we may not have agreed on everything – who I am today is a product of who she was. In giving me life, she laid down a strong foundation, became my lighthouse, and my compass.

I cannot chronicle her life here, as to do full justice is nothing short of a book or documentary. There is no starting point or end point with my mother, as she is someone who will live longer than her years. She has been a legacy creator and an inspiration of legacies. I am but one of her many products. She was more a teacher to me than a mother. As a mother, she gave me life, loved me with all my faults and was at my side always in various ways. She had her shortcomings….. like not being the best cook. I remember many a burnt or undercooked meal because she had things far more important to accomplish, like grading her student’s papers, tutoring and mentoring. It are those accomplishments that made her more than a mother – a truly great teacher, not just to me, but for so many generations. As a teacher, the sacrifices she made for our family and for her community and future generations is what has made her one of my greatest heroes.

My mother was ahead of her times; a visionary and a trail blazer. She did not believe in or accept glass ceilings and broke through so many for herself and others. As a woman she defied the system. She went to school, to universities and was part of shaping a future for South Africa very few women of her era were engaged in or passionate about. She was a fighter. She was not afraid to take on leaders, be they corporations or governments, or an unjust system like Apartheid. I have seen her engaged with impoverished people we used to deliver cloths to on a farm in Wolsely, and I have spent time with her around governors and the former president of Bermuda, and always she was the same curious, gracious woman, I have known all my life.

Stella expected the best out of all of us. For many who remember her, she was our teacher. I remember after my operations how every morning in the car when she drove me to school, we did math tables or spelling, my two weakest subjects. I did not enjoy those rides, but am thankful today for this tempering, as an investor and an award winning author. She taught me that life was not always fair, and that we have to work harder and smarter. She taught me grit. She exposed me to ideas, to places, to people and it was she who laid down the foundation that nothing was impossible. She taught by example, with passion, purpose and dedication. Every moment was a teachable opportunity for her.

Her impact has reached across oceans and around our globe in ways we will never know. She may not have had the recognition as a Mother Theresa or the same reach, but she made impacts that none of us could ever calculate. Just over a year ago I was in Dr Dilshaad Brink’s Surgery Clinic getting a check up and there was a photo of Mom. Even though I knew a bit of Dr Dilshaad’s story, Darlene had not. Dilshaad spoke of years ago filling out a university application form. Mom asked to see what she had done. It was to nursing school. Mom read it, then tore it up and shocked Dilshaad. “You will not be going to nursing school,” she told her. “You are going to medical school!” Dilshaad could not afford medical school, but Mom said that they would find a way, and medical school it was. Full potential, had been something she had fought for before and after for her brilliant students.

Many students went to medical school and university because Mom and along with her colleagues at Livingstone, found ways to make things happen. Some years back when Mom was diagnosed with cancer, part of her medical team, were some of her former students. They rallied in around their teacher and gave her medical care beyond what any amount of money could buy.

One of the key lessons I learned from my mother was to ask: “What I do, is it right for me?” I watched her become one of the greatest teachers because this was her passion. “What I do, is it right for my family?” We had a humble home and food on our table because of what she did with her time. “What I do, is it right for my community?” Here is where she made her greatest contributions over decades. Eight years ago I added a fourth question when I held Shelby in my arms for the first time after her birth. Shelby is my granddaughter, the child of Darlene’s son. “What I do, is it not just right for ourselves, our family or our community, but is it right for the next generation?” I am the generation my mother not only gave birth to or raised – but taught and she will continue to impact generation after generation.

One of the last times I saw my Mother, we had flown her out to the Caribbean to spend a week on our yacht. Once she had settled down, I heard her call my name. There is a tone that a mother uses and we drop all we are engaged in and respond. She asked, “Rich people fly to Caribbean islands. Rich people own yachts like this. Did you make your money honestly?” For the next several hours mom and I discussed my brand of capitalism. She was not an investor in markets, but a saver of pennies and an investor in knowledge. She has always been about fairness and justice, about looking to what a future can be, not what the past was. She bore the many crosses of poverty, apartheid, an alcoholic husband, but she never faltered in her mission of a better tomorrow for her children, of which my sister and I, are just two, being her flesh and blood.

Jan, I appreciate all you have done for Mom. David and Jesse, I know you will miss her terribly. We all will. We, as her children and her grandchildren, will always remember who she is and what she stood for. We were always her family no matter what. We have an obligation to keep living our lives by the example and expectations she had for us. She will always be our rising star. We are privileged to have been her descendants as she continues to be our guiding light.

To all of us who have been touched by her life, let us raise our heads and be proud of Dr Stella Petersen. By remembering her, let us not forget her expectation of all of us in this world. She lived a full life. Each of us will always have our special memories of her, so I ask you to join me in sharing those memories and celebration of this amazing life. Do not be sad, but be joyous of knowing and honoring the life of my Mother and being a recipient of the many contributions she has made to who we are today.

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A Brief History of Dr Stella Petersen

Dr. Stella Petersen Honorary Doctorate from UCT



Funeral Service Details For Dr. Stella Petersen

November 21, 2013 the world lost a legend, a leader, visionary, activist, teacher, my mother, Dr Stella Petersen of Cape Town, South Africa.

She was more than my Mother; she was my teacher, my inspiration, my heroine. Though we may not have agreed on everything – who I am today is a product of who she was. In giving me life, she laid down a strong foundation and became my lighthouse, and my compass.  I cannot chronicle her life here, as to do full justice is nothing short of a book or documentary. There is no starting point or end point with my mother, as she is someone who will live longer than her years. She has been a legacy creator and an inspirer of legacies; I am but one of her many products.

My mother was ahead of her times; a true trail blazer, courageous and wise. She did not believe or accept glass ceilings and broke through so many for herself and for others. As a woman, she defied the system, becoming the first black woman to obtain a BSc in botany and zoology, an MSc in science, a senior teaching diploma and a BEd degree at UCT in the early to mid-1940s. Her academic achievements won her a prestigious international educational fellowship to the US, where she became the first South African to study at Syracuse University in New York, earning a master’s in education in 1949.

She returned home immediately and was instrumental in shaping a future for South Africa very few women of her era were engaged in or passionate about. There are many black doctors, scientists and other professionals that owe their career path to their teacher Mrs. Petersen, who fought for slots in universities, when there were none for “people of color”.

Dr. Stella Petersen dedicated her teaching life to the students of Livingstone High School, her alma mater and where she taught biology for over 30 years in Room 3, and then after retiring spent many years volunteering at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

In 2011, Mom was awarded an honorary doctorate in education from University of Cape Town.

Dr Petersen has been described as a deeply revered and respected community figure, and was renowned for her dedication as a teacher, and the high standards she set her learners.

There is a funeral on 29th November 2013 at 1:30pm
St. John’s Church in St. John’s Road, Wynberg, Cape Town 7800

We requests that in lieu of flowers, please send donations to the
Douglas Murray Home for the Aged
Address: 53 Gordon Searle Str, Retreat, 7945 Cape Town