1 of 2
Image courtesy of Submares
Diving with Submares
2 of 2
Image courtesy of MTF
MTF Sail & Power
Setting sail with MTF Sail & Power
Make the most of any extra free time that you have this month, thanks to reduced working hours and/or annual leave, by trying out one of the water sports on offer in Barcelona and along the Catalan coast.
There’s something enchanting about the many onlookers who wave to the boats coming and going under the open bridge at La Rambla del Mar in the Port Vell. The life of a sailor can appear idyllic, especially at this time of year, and as boats set sail towards the horizon, it’s difficult not to wonder where they’re off to on their travels, and maybe even to wish that we too were heading out of Barcelona on a sailboat. That’s not to say you want to leave Barcelona once and for all, but sometimes a breath of fresh sea air is the kind of escape you need from the claustrophobia of the lively city, particularly during these sticky months.
If you think that sailing could be for you, an ideal place to head is MTF Sail & Power, currently the only Royal Yachting Association (RYA) accredited sailing school in Barcelona. The school offers a wide range of courses, whether you just want to have a go as a novice or you fancy yourself as a more serious sailor.
Courses are both theory-based and practical, from beginners’ courses (Competent Crew) to Day Skipper, Yachtmaster and Oceanmaster qualifications. Maybe you used to sail and would like to pick it up again or perhaps you want to build up your nautical miles. If you’ve got your sea legs and wish to do a few different courses, MTF also offers special package deals. Alternatively, you may be interested in speeding your way across the waves, in which case the powerboat qualifications will be for you. Essentially, there’s a wide range of courses suitable for all sailing abilities with prices ranging from €300 to €4,500, depending on the course you take. The Irish couple who run the school, Michael and Teresa Townley, are passionate about sailing, and with their experience and sense of adventure, they hope to pass on their love of yachting to their students.
So, if you sign up with MTF, it could soon be you waving from a sailboat departing from Port Vell, rather than watching wistfully from dry land.
Are you in the position that every time you pick up a surfboard, you have to shamefacedly admit to your new instructor that you have actually learnt to surf several (if not countless) times before? To save your embarrassment, the next time you want to catch a wave in Barcelona, take an oar with you and enjoy some stand up paddle surfing (SUP). Originating in Hawaii in the Sixties (its name is Hoe he’e nalu in Hawaiian), this relaxing sport has made its way to Barcelona and is fast becoming a hit here and on other local beaches, such as Gavà Mar.
Indeed, head down to Barceloneta on any summer day and you’re bound to see a number of these ‘alternative surfers’ paddling away at a leisurely pace. It’s not that they’ve given up on surfing, but they’re probably just as impatient as the rest of us. By transforming surfing into a slower hobby, you’re less likely to lose your patience about falling in every few minutes (because you won’t be), and you will have much more control over where you want to go and how quickly. What’s more, rent yourself a board and oars for a couple of hours and you’re bound to make some new friends—everyone seems intrigued by this up-and-coming sport.
Stand Up Surf runs the first and only website dedicated to the sport of paddle surfing in Spain. For three years, their Barcelona school, based at the Port Olímpic, has offered different courses and lessons as well as organising regular activities and competitions for paddle surfers. They upload regular weather information onto the website, and tips for both aspiring and experienced paddle surfers.
UNDER THE SEA
Biologists have estimated that there are between 500,000 and 5,000,000 species living in the Earth’s seas, making a scuba diving trip below the waves a journey into the mysteries of nature. To try your hand at this activity locally, the Costa Brava is is the place to head. But it’s not just fish, molluscs and other sealife waiting to be discovered there; there’s also history to be rediscovered. Whilst exploring the Catalan marine world, you can also marvel at shipwrecks and ruins from the past.
Schools such as Submares, based in Tossa de Mar, give you the chance to discover the Mediterranean beyond Barcelona and its beaches, with courses and diving qualifications available. At Submares, their range of diving courses starts with an Initiation level for complete beginners, and also includes PADI qualifications (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), including Rescue Diver, Divemaster, First Aid and Advanced Open Water, which includes deep diving, diving at night and diving around shipwrecks and underwater rock landscapes. There are two shipwrecks that you can explore with Submares (note that you need to have at least an intermediate level to participate in these dives). They are: the Reggio Messina, which was used originally to transport trains and passengers then due to be turned into a luxury boat for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games until weaknesses in its outer shell let in rainwater, causing it to sink; and the Boreas, a one-time German naval tug baptised Pellworm that was used in the Second World War and later converted to civil use, when its name was changed. The Boreas was abandoned for several years in the port of Palamós (after being immobilised by the authorities due to its use for drug running), until it was intentionally sunk to create an attraction for local divers.
MTF Sail & Power—www.mtf.com, tel. 695 806 029/646 654 067
Stand Up Surf—www.stand-up-surf.com
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 653 932 32