In the last week of July 2017 I was fortunate enough to spend 7 days at sea with the entire Brigada.
Who are “La Brigada” you ask?
They are the one and only crew you need to know in Spain. For those who follow my posts you will know that I have a special connection with Valencia and this group of guys. You can find out more about La Brigada in this previous post.
As the only non-spanish member of La Brigada I have to thank Pascual and Chimo for opening the door for me to enter the group and invite me along on this trip!
This adventure was in the works for over 6 months. In January 2016 I was added to a WhatsApp group chat to keep across everything that was happening regarding organisation for the week. I would wake up every day back in Sydney to at least 100 messages in Spanish talking about logistics, boats, food, boat crews and anything else La Brigada oriented. With over 20 people in two sailing boats travelling from the Spanish mainland to Ibiza and Formentera there was a lot to talk about!
After months of planning, the day finally arrived to pick up our boats and sail to the islands. We spent days in the sun, swimming off the back of the boat, going out at night and somehow making our way back to the boat on our little zodiac/dingy in the early hours of the morning.
I debated what was the most appropriate way to write about the week and I felt the best I could do was hit you with a summary of points that will give a feel for what life was like for one week with 20 other guys on two boats.
No shitting on the boat
The first and most important rule of the boat. With one toilet and 10 guys this toilet was about to be destroyed, the boat was going to stink and there would have been some serious hygiene questions asked when we brought the boat back to shore.
We therefore had two options, do your business in a bucket and throw it out the back of the boat or…go for a morning swim and release the demons.
I personally was a fan of the later. Once I got through this the first time I have to say that this became a rite of passage that I looked forward to everyday. Clean snap! Just watch out for where the current takes your efforts, it may pop up a little closer than you expect!
Dare I say, it did become a competition to see who could release the most impressive of demons…
Improvisation and thinking on your feet
Sometimes you cannot find your zodiac/dingy to get you back to your boat. Sometimes you are stranded on a beach at 2am. Sometimes you have to “borrow” another person’s dingy in order to get back to the boat and then find yours later!
Finally, sometimes your name is said by a random Italian girl a few meters away from you, while you are sending a WhatsApp voicenote to your girlfriend. There is then some serious explaining to do (true story, this actually happened to one of the group, an Italian girl was talking to another guy on the beach who coincidently had the same name!! Poor Pablo! To Pablo’s girlfriend, you have to believe him, it was a serious misunderstanding!).
One of the most important things to La Brigada is food. We must eat well! From marinated muscles, jamon serrano and beef fillet, we had it all! Special mention must go to our resident chefs for always taking care of business. Chimo, Hugo, Edu and Migel, impresionante!
Along with the chefs there was also the cleaning crew predominantly made up of myself, Pascual, Pepo and Joseka. Boys well done on getting out the back of the boat and scrubbing those pots, pans and plates. We only lost one plate to the sea as a result of girls in bikinis on other boats distracting us from the cleaning process, which I think we can say was a good result for 7 days!
Similar to eating well, a key tenant of La Brigada is to enjoy life. Take your time to get from one place to another, eat paella for about 3 hours with your friends and soak in what life has to offer you.
I thought that this would also be a good place to highlight a few special awards…
The Piti Master – Pepe – for always making sure not only he, but everyone else had a cigarette when needed
The Naked Man – Hugo – I love you brother but I probably saw a bit too much of you. Having said that, thank you for making us all feel very confident to take off our clothes and get back to nature. Pretty much every one of us had an open air naked moment, you are a visionary!
The First-ish mate – Pascual – for always being eager to help, sometimes leading to not so desirable consequences. I think of all of us Pascual was the only one that was “lost at sea” with a broken zodiac and a titanic struggle to find our boat at night. On our last day he even had to swim for 30min to the boat at 10pm to make sure we made it back to Denia on time! A true seaman!
The Man with a Plan – Chimo – with an amazing ability to not be affected by a late night Chimo was always first up to get us moving, keeping us on schedule and well feed. A true Brigada hero!
The El Capitano – Andy – who else could this go to but our “Patron”?!?! We would have been lost without him…and his dance moves
The reflective stuff
Probably my favourite moment of the trip happened while we were cruising from one beach to another at about 10pm at night. Pascual was at the bow of the boat and called me over. We were chatting after having had a few drinks with the boys, could see the lights of the islands and hear the sea gently swooshing under the boat as we sailed along. We both couldn’t really believe that after meeting in Copenhagen studying together 6 years ago we were on a boat sailing off the coast of Spain. Pascual turned to me and said he was really happy I was there, and I couldn’t have agreed more.
Additional to this, another member of La Brigada, Edu (Yuyu), came over afterwards just to say he was really happy I was part of the group. This was a relatively new friend who I felt I had known for a long, long time. For me, this is what life is about!
These guys have been so great to me every time I have been in Spain, I cannot be more grateful!
Sure we had fun and partied but this was the best moment for me.
In the words of Hugo, “Viva España, Viva Australia!”
And I might add, “Viva La Brigada!”
As always, take what you will from this post, I hope you enjoy the video, and see you next time!