I'm not very good at writing about feelings.
I've been wanting to write a post about what it feels like to be at Minorca Sailing. Fundamentally, that feeling is why Tillerwoman and I keep going back there.
I made a stab at it in my 2006 post, Minorca Sailing - 25 Years Later. I talked about some of the factors that make it a special place for us…
Nostalgia - that so little has changed since we first went there, over 30 years ago now.
The unspoiled beauty of the bay and the surrounding hills.
The unique nature of the style of service and offerings. As I said then…
A safe sailing environment where the guests are offered a huge range of options. Something for everyone from total beginners to aggressive racers. Casual fun atmosphere with professional help and instruction if you want it, but with plenty of freedom and flexibility to do what ever turns you on.
All true but that's all external stuff. It's not about the way we feel when we are there.
The feeling came over me again on the Sunday morning, the second full day, of our visit to Minorca Sailing this year, as I lay in bed and waited for the sun to rise and shine through the bedroom curtains and I reflected on the previous day and contemplated the days ahead.
There had been a couple of welcome parties - a dinner on Friday evening and drinks on the beach on Saturday evening. A chance to renew old acquaintances with instructors and clients, and also to make new friends. An easygoing, friendly bunch of people whom I looked forward to having fun with in the coming days.
A Laser class on Saturday morning and then some free sailing in a Laser in the afternoon, working on my tacks and gybes.
Dinner on Saturday evening at Ca Na Marga with a couple of my favorite items from their menu.
All good, but hardly enough to explain why I was waking up with a silly grin on my face. Relaxed. Anticipating a wonderful day ahead. Two weeks of wonderful days ahead.
I think it's really about the sheer pleasure of a "no worries" vacation with lots of "no hassle" sailing.
I've had all sorts of vacations in my life including ones where we were driving long distances every day and/or looking for new places to stay every night. There's none of that when we are at Minorca Sailing. We are HERE. It's a two minute walk to the beach to go sailing. It's a five minute walk to the nearest restaurant. As the Beatles sang, "Oh that magic feeling. Nowhere to go." It's almost like the feeling of coming home after a long trip. Only better.
And then the sailing is totally hassle free. I forget sometimes how much hassle there is in much of the sailing I do, especially at regattas. Such things as…
Pack up boat and sailing gear
Drive trailer to wherever I am sailing.
Get boat off trailer and rig it.
Read sailing instructions.
Wait to launch.
Sail out to racing area (which might take an hour or more at some locations.)
Wait for race committee to set the perfect course.
Wait for fleets using the same course to get their starts off.
Wait for own fleet to work out how to start without triggering a general recall every time.
Sail back to launch site at end of day (maybe another hour or more.)
Try and find my own dolly among the hundreds on the beach.
Put boat on trailer.
OK. None of that is terrible in the big scale of things and we are all happy to do it to enjoy the fun of racing.
But there is essentially none of that at Minorca Sailing. The equivalent list there is roughly…
Walk two minutes to beach.
Tell member of staff what boat you want to sail.
The boats are all rigged by the staff. They will even try to assist you launching and putting in your daggerboard and pushing your rudder down if you let them. And when you are finished you just sail (the short distance) back to the beach and some instructor will be standing in the water ready to take your boat from you.
No, no, no. That picture was not taken at Minorca Sailing. It's from a website for a ridiculously extravagant cruise line. The instructors at Minorca Sailing do NOT wear tuxedos or bring you snacks and glasses of champagne when you come back from a morning of Laser sailing. But there's something of the same spirit of service that this picture portrays. It's your vacation and we are here to make sure you enjoy it.
And there's just the right balance of organization and freedom to make sure you will enjoy it. There is organized instruction at various levels from beginner to advanced in the mornings. And organized (pretty informal) racing in the afternoons. And then in the late afternoon you can have personal one-on-one tuition on any sailing subject you want. And in the evenings there are sometimes GPS and video debriefs.
But the beauty of it is that you can do as little or as much of the organized offerings as you want. Or just go free sailing if you want. Or take an afternoon off if you want. Or mix and match the offerings however you like.
Want to take lessons on sailing asymmetric dinghies in the morning and race Lasers in the afternoon? No problem.
Want to take Laser classes in the morning and just practice on your own in the afternoon? Sure.
Want to skip the Laser racing and try out the RS Aero? Whenever you like.
Want to do the Asymmetric classes some days and Laser classes other days? Be our guest.
I find it hard to imagine a better way to have a sailing vacation.
I really am no good at writing about feelings.
You will just have to take my word for it and go to Minorca Sailing yourself.
Or read the posts about our 2014 Minorca Sailing trip if I ever get round to writing them.