After spending a day sailing the stunning north-east coast of Ibiza last week, I haven’t been able to get that old Enya song out of my head (and my sincerest apologies if that happens to you after reading this headline). Calm, dreamy, ethereal and a little bit haunting – not to mention written by a fellow cat lady – it’s the most apt piece of music to soundtrack a classy and elegant day at sea, one that conjures up the magic of the dramatic high cliffs and deep blue sea, and one that should accompany the view of the sun setting in the west as the moon was rising in the east. This was a boat trip like nothing I’d ever experienced before in Ibiza – this was the Saga.
When most people think of boat charters in Ibiza, they’re likely to envision sleek white sailboats whizzing across to Formentera with thumping house music blaring on-board, the mojito man meeting you for fresh-made, well, mojitos obviously, and jet skis and floating unicorns and all that jazz. Now, there’s obviously a time and a place for that kind of thing, but there’s also a time to take things slow, to appreciate the beauty of the island we live on, to connect with your friends and just r-e-l-a-x. So when my very good friend Miss S – who is soon to become Mrs SS – asked for help organising her hen party (with the stipulation that it be a classy do with no phallic images/toys/straws/hats or silly hen games), we decided that the weather was still perfect for a day at sea and that the Saga would be the ultimate floating location!
I can almost hear you thinking, what is this Saga she’s speaking of? Well, let me set the scene for you. A classic wooden sailboat – for those of you who are boat-ish types, I believe the correct term is schooner (which where I come from is a large beer, so I can’t bring myself to call it that) – handcrafted in 1935, lovingly maintained and then restored to the stylish condition you see here in these photos. Just shy of 25 metres long and with two masts that extend high into the sky, she’s one-part pirate ship; another part romantic adventure vessel – large enough to host 36 people on board (the only boat in Ibiza that can do so), but intimate enough to work well for small groups. Basically, it’s just incredibly stylish and makes you feel like you’re on a movie set for the duration of the day.
Manned by a handsome crew of European charmers, all dressed in very appropriate nautical blue and white stripes, the Saga sails the route less travelled in Ibiza – from San Antonio, up past Cala Gracioneta, past Cap Negret, beyond Cala Salada, alongside the Ses Margalides islets and all the way up to Cala D’Albarca on the north coast. It’s an incredibly picturesque part of the island – and one that very few travellers to Ibiza get to discover, due to the overwhelming buzz about Formentera – and one I couldn’t recommend highly enough at this time of year. While the sea across to Formentera can get a bit choppy at the end of the season, sailing north is so protected and calm – a balmy 26 degrees and pure sunshine.
So now you get the picture: a film set of a boat, a picture perfect Ibiza day and a group of pretty damn gorgeous women from all over the world who were coming together to celebrate the future Mrs SS’s last day of freedom*. I’m going to be honest – I felt a little trepidation about being stuck on a boat for a full day with that many women, most of whom have very strong personalities, with nowhere to escape to but the water (and those who know me will know already that I don’t swim! So that was no help to me), but I was so pleasantly surprised when at 7pm the Saga crew asked us if we’d like to stay on the boat longer to enjoy the sunset/moonrise. It felt like only a couple of hours had gone by to begin with!
*Side note to the feminists out there (and to Mr S): I sincerely doubt being married will do anything to hamper Miss S’s current state of freedom, it’s just a turn of phrase, and I’m using it with creative license!
Given that we were sailing along the side of the coast that isn’t peppered with beach clubs to head ashore to for lunch, we’d opted for a package which included an open bar (and I hear that we may have drunk the bar dry of rosé and indeed drank more than any other group to have sailed on the Saga this summer – oops!) and an enormous paella, made from locally sourced ingredients that everyone on the boat declared to have been the best paella they’d ever eaten in their lives – and this included some born and bred Ibiza girls, so that’s saying something. The paella was cooked fresh from scratch on the boat, which was something I hadn’t expected – I always thought boat catering was a bit lame, like pre-packaged salads scooped into plastic bowls or ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ style paellas whizzed in from seaside restaurants, but this was quite the opposite: restaurant quality food that was clearly made and served with so much love, right there on deck.
We also had paddleboards and snorkels included in the trip, which made for some pretty funny moments on the sea. In fact, there were SO MANY hilarious moments (despite zero hen-related paraphernalia) on the Saga during our day out, but out of respect for the hen and her friends’ privacy, I shall take them all to my grave. Or at the very least, not write about them in a public forum. What I can tell you is this – it was so amazing to do something I’d never done before, with such a wonderful group of people. On top of the day of cruising the coastline, to quite literally be sailing off into the sunset, while simultaneously watching the moon rising was so special. Sometimes we islanders can have a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude to island activities, so when you do finally discover something like this, it really makes you stop, step back, and appreciate where we live and the fact that we have access to trips, and indeed boats, like this. And then you wish you’d set aside the time to do it more often!
But here’s the thing. There’s still time. If you’re here in Ibiza right now, just take a look out the window (that’s if you’re not already outside in this blazing sunshine!). This Indian summer is quite possibly the best one I can remember in the past five years (maybe more? Help me out Ibiza friends!) and days at sea are indeed still possible. While Formentera and its restaurants are in the middle of shutting up shop, the Saga (complete with its talented chef!), and indeed the unspoiled north-west coast of Ibiza, are still open for business, and there are some great end of season deals to be had too. Call your pals, make up a guest list, get your family together, enlist your work colleagues, make it a romantic day out for you and your partner, or just you and your BFFS, or whoever you want to spend a day at sea with – but whatever you do, do it soon. Because as most of us know from experience, these extended summers usually come to a grinding rainy halt sometime just after Halloween, which means the clock is ticking! Now is the time to sail away, sail away, sail away…