I’m on a Boat: Sailing the Spanish Seas

I’ve never been one much for bodies of water whether it be brooks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, seas, or oceans. I’d like to think it has to do with not spending much time around any of those things growing up, but perhaps it has more to do with the lack of control and the unknown that lies beneath. I almost drowned floating a river in my 20s, so to say I have trepidation when it comes to water deeper than my bathtub is an understatement.

In March, I went to Costa Brava, Spain with Charming Villas Catalonia. Thrilled to explore more of the region, I couldn’t wait to see the final itinerary. The first three days were to be spent in Cadaqués, a former fishing village set on the Mediterranean Sea. Just beyond Cap de Creus National Park, Cadaqués is the former home of Salvador Dali. Nice. I would get to experience the Mediterranean beyond Barcelona and listen to the soothing sounds of the sea. Scanning down to day two, I saw that I’d be sailing around Cap de Creus, the most eastern point of Spain, in a traditional Catalan fishing boat.

costa brava spain sailing

After I rid Andy Sandberg and T-Pain’s song, “I’m on a Boat” from my mind, my stomach started doing flips. Watching the waves roll in and out safely from the shore was one thing, but boarding a gas-powered dingy to be transported to a wooden fishing boat was an entirely different story. Like I do with most things I’m frightened of {heights}, I simply blocked the Gilligan’s Island/Jaws/Titanic scenarios from my mind. Instead of dwelling on my irrational fear, I decided to focus on the new experience I would get to have. After all, it’s not everyday that I get to cruise around one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines on a private boat.

I woke up on day two of my Catalan trip to less-than-desirable conditions. It was windy, cloudy, and a bit rainy—not exactly conducive for cruising around Cap de Creus, Spain’s most eastern point. By mid-morning the clouds parted and it was confirmed that the ship would sail. Dressed in my best sailor’s outfit, as you do, I boarded the small boat that would take me to the Sant Isidre.

Sailing Costa Brava

Originally a fishing boat built in 1925, the Sant Isidre was handed over to the Spanish Republic’s navy after being busted for carrying some sort of contraband. Then it was used as a warship during the Spanish civil war before being left to decay in the 90s. It was later restored and once again cruises around the Spanish Mediterranean.

Sailing Costa Brava

The vessel was gleaming. It’s white paint looked as if it’d been recently freshened up. Two maroon stripes ran the length of the boat and written in script was Sant Isidre near the bow. Thick ropes rose into the sky and attached to the mast and the giant sails were safely stowed away. Even in my limited experience with boats, I could tell this was a special ship.

Sailors Catalan

For four hours, the two men manning the ship would hug the jagged coastline of Costa Brava. We passed a lighthouse, gorgeous sea-front homes, and even caught a glimpse of France. Despite Tramuntana, the name the locals have given the forceful winds coming off the nearby Pyrenees Mountains, the water was smooth. As the boat glided along the water, cava was opened and shared.

Lunch was prepared on the boat and eaten in a beautiful, secluded cove. Fideua, a traditional Catalan dish made of noodles and prawns, was eaten. And for desert, taps were served. Shaped like a cava cork, this cake-like sweet is generously sprinkled with powdered sugar and a favorite of Catalans.

spanish prawns

With a full stomach and the clouds beginning to darken, it was time to board the dingy, get back to the Sant Isidre and return to Cadaqués. I didn’t have the trepidation that I’d had a few hours earlier. Perhaps it was the cava or the fact that I was on a sugar high from the taps, but I felt comfortable and certainly at ease.

spanish dessert

Maybe I’d found my inner sailor’s soul. At the very least, I found my sea legs. No longer was I thinking about the ship sinking or what was swimming around ready to devour me whole.  Instead I found serenity in watching the horizon. The rising and falling of the ship reminded me of sitting in a rocking chair on the biggest front porch ever.

imediterranean spain costa brava

I couldn’t wait to explore the Mediterranean by boat again. Hopefully it would be in warmer weather so I could don snorkeling equipment and truly learn what lies beneath the brilliant turquoise water. I imagine it’s splendid, just like my ride on the Sant Isidre.

mediterranean spain

 

I was an invited guest of Charming Villas Catalonia, however the opinions expressed here are truly my own. In no way was I swayed by the fabulous boat, the ever-present salty sea air of Cadaqués, or the prawns and cava. Find more information on Sant Isidre on their Website.

Charming Villas Catalonia specializes in the rental of high-quality homes and villas in Catalonia, Spain. They are located in Besalu, and as locals, they are able to share first-hand knowledge of Catalonia with their clients.

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30 Comments
  • Raymond @ Man On The Lam
    May 13, 2013

    This was such a fun trip!

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      Yes it was. I’m so glad to have shared it with you.

  • Becky Padmore
    May 13, 2013

    You look like a natural in the photos 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      It’s amazing what clothes can do. 😉

  • Anita Mac
    May 13, 2013

    Glad to hear you found your sea legs and your fears abated! Getting out on the water is just another of my many favourite things. Love looking at the rugged coastline. Looks like a great adventurous day!

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      I feel very fortunate to have had the experience. I’d happily do it again, but hopefully with warmer weather and more cava.

  • Loz in Transit
    May 13, 2013

    “Not spending much time around any of those things growing up” would make you love the water surely as you’d have novelty. Its why Europeans love Australia as the Sun and Sandy beaches are not as commonplace over there. Did you actually have Samberg’s “I’m on a boat” playing. That would have been fun. Modest Mouse’ ‘Dashboard’ would have been my theme song.
    Great pics. Love the food and your cute uniform.

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      I couldn’t stop singing “I’m on a Boat” and it about drove me mad. As for seeing it as a novelty, I do. However, it just frightens me a bit still.

  • Sofia
    May 14, 2013

    Sounds like a fun trip, the coast line of Costa Brava is so beautiful!

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      Right on, Sofia. You have no arguments from me about the beauty of Costa Brava.

  • I’m not a fan of Barcelona in the least, but the coastline of the Costa Brava is stunning…and I have a thing for boats. Loved the shots!

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      Barcelona is cool, but I love Costa Brava. It is such a magical place and one that I can’t wait to see again.

  • @mrsoaroundworld
    May 14, 2013

    This looks lovely, I have to say! And the foodie treats at the end? Oh my! Next time, I am coming with you. Let’s just make it a tad sunnier 😉

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      I’m in for a sunny boat ride. The treats were delicious, but we’ll need a lot more cava for our trip.

  • Kieu
    May 15, 2013

    OMG that dish with the prawns… drool!

    • Leah Walker
      May 16, 2013

      I was a huge fan, but could have used some Tabasco sauce. 😉

  • Yeah…I would definitely love to do this. It’s also worth noting, that I’d definitely love 1/8th of the coolness of those dudes manning the boat…

    • Leah Walker
      May 16, 2013

      Coolness and hotness…just sayin’.

  • thelazytravelers
    May 16, 2013

    i must say, leah, you certainly picked the most nautical of outfits. not really into water either, BUT drinking on a boat has always been one of my favorite pastimes. xo, the wino

    • Leah Walker
      May 16, 2013

      When I saw those yellow sailor pants at J. Crew, I knew I had to have them for the boat. 😉

  • Lisa
    May 16, 2013

    It’s great that you overcame trepidation and went on the boat! That’s one of neat things about travel, it takes out of our comfort zones!

    • Leah Walker
      May 16, 2013

      I try to step out of that comfort zone on each trip. Otherwise I should just stay home.

  • lola
    May 19, 2013

    i think i missed the part of you being afraid to be out on a boat. i have no idea how?! i love being out on the water so much and that was a great day. PLUS the 2 manning the boat weren’t too hard on the ole eyes either!

  • The World Wanderer
    May 20, 2013

    These photos are beautiful as usual. LOVE the one of you sailing the boat, and your outfit is absolutely fabulous.

  • boat parts
    June 20, 2013

    Traveling through a boat is a great way to enjoy the real beauty of sea. It seems that you had an awesome boat trip. I am also planning a boat trip in the coming days.

    • Leah Walker
      June 26, 2013

      Enjoy! I love being on the water now.

  • Jeff Dobbins
    August 4, 2013

    I too had no idea you were unnerved. You seemed like a seasoned seaman (person). That was a great day. Thanks for taking me back.

    • Leah Walker
      August 8, 2013

      I blame the movie Jaws for my fear of the water. Even though I looked comfortable, what was lurking under the water was always in the back of my mind.

  • Ana Jonessy
    August 11, 2014

    Aahhhh so much fun! The ocean and landscape are spectacular! Oh you lucky gal you! x

    • Leah Walker
      August 11, 2014

      I am pretty lucky, but it was COLD, I tell you.

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