I’m on a Boat: Sailing the Spanish Seas
Leah Walker May 13, 2013

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.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for six years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.


  1. 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!

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

  2. “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.

    1. 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.

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

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

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

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