Sunday, October 26, 2014


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.
Derig boat.
Put boat on trailer.
Drive home.

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.


Anonymous said...

This. I am doing this.

JP said...

Sounds like the definition of a holiday, and a good one at that.

Tillerman said...

Anonymous 2:29 AM, October 27, 2014, you should, Whoever you are.

George A said...

I'm with you on the hassle of going to/from regattas, hoping my aging brain didn't forget to pack something that's a deal breaker (like the mast or rudder), rigging, derigging, driving home exhausted after a couple days of getting beat up by the boat. Like Zippy the Pinhead, some days I wonder if I'm having fun yet. Somehow I keep doing this. I must enjoy it. Sort of like boarding school--after a while you look forward to the beatings.

Baydog said...

They should come up with a place where you just show up, sit down, and they start putting food in front of you and then take it away when you're done playing with it. Wait.......

Tillerman said...

Great analogy Baydog. Minorca Sailing is to other sailing as going to your favorite restaurant is to doing all your own grocery shopping, food preparation, cooking and washing up.

I'm not so sure about your analogy George. "Sailing is like boarding school because after a while you look forward to the beatings"???? Hmmm.

Baydog said...

"doing all your own grocery shopping, food preparation, cooking and washing up'". I totally enjoy 75% of that quote, and luckily my girls take care of the last 25%.

R1 said...

Perhaps Tillerwoman could have a chat with Mrs R1 and convince her that this is the holiday for us too. I would then only have to work out what to do with R1.1 and R1.2. Do they have Oppies at Minorca?

Anonymous said...

Yes they do have boats (not Oppies as I recall) for the small fry. And staff to look after them.

I wish I were young again...


Tillerman said...

What would convince Mrs R1 to go to Minorca? Is she a sailor? If not, what are her interests? What does she like to do on vacation? I would be quite happy to put Tillerwoman in touch with her if you think that would help, or maybe Tillerwoman and I could jointly write a blog post on "Why Mrs R1 would have a great time at Minorca Sailing."

They do have some Optimists at Minorca Sailing although I think the RS Teras are used more with junior sailors. There is a creche for little ones as young as 4 months, and from 4 years old and upwards there are on-the-water classes and activities for the kids. Check out the brochure on their website for more details.

Maybe we will see you there next year R1. I know another of my readers went there this year after reading what I wrote about Minorca Sailing on this blog. And at least one of the instructors researched them on this blog before deciding to apply for a job there!

R1 said...

Mrs R1 is not a sailor though she has sailed dinghies and yachts. She is not a sailor because she hates the "faff" of rigging/launching, she hates that we have cold, wet weather and she hates the fact that she doesn't know how to sail. Could Minorca tick all those boxes?

Then there's the concern that Mrs R1 still doesn't like sailing, or worse, R1.1 and R1.2 don't like or get bored of sailing (apparently that can happend!). If that does happen, is the holiday wasted? The R family require activities, good food and probably better if there are other young kids about too.

We've looked at a Mark Warner holiday in the med that has most of our requirements ticked and it has some sailing - I've always assumed Minorca Sailing was entirely sailing focused and not for beginners.

I'll take a look online. We're starting to plan next year and my Laser is already packed away for winter.

Tillerman said...

Minorca Sailing is absolutely great for beginners of all ages. Every adult beginner who has been there when I've been there has loved it and has made excellent progress. That's where I learned to sail as an adult.

The company is focused on sailing and windsurfing but there are other things to do on Minorca for visitors (like Tillerowman) who don't sail. If you go in the school holidays there will be lots of other kids there, I hear. Not so much in October.

How old are your kids R1?

R1 said...

R1.1 is 8 and he's had a few tries in an Oppie and crewing our Mirror. R1.2 is 6 and she's been in our Mirror a couple of times but is frankly terrified.

Tillerman said...

Based on my own experience teaching kids to sail, I have always felt that 8 is about the age they are really ready to learn properly.

But Minorca Sailing do organize activities for kids from 4-7 too. I think there are a lot of land-based activities as well as some time on the water. We saw a treasure hunt for kids on the beach when we we there this year. And they seem to take out the younger kids in big, stable boats with 4 or 5 kids and an instructor or two and just have fun singing silly songs, or hanging off the shrouds, or whatever they are comfortable with. But if a kid is genuinely terrified of being on the water it might make sense to wait a year or two.

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