There are few people in the yachting industry that know more about sailing around the Balearic Islands than the captains that spend their time in their waters. We recently caught up with Javier Fernández, who shared his tips and experiences with us and told us a bit about why he holds such affection for the Balearics.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
When I was about 15 years old I started to discover things, to have other passions apart from my own profession as a doctor. Then I began to take nautical courses in order to obtain my Chilean licence. I started to sail in the great Pacific Ocean, but the development of marinas in Chile is very limited. There are private nautical clubs but they don’t compare to what we have in Spain.
When I studied in Chile there were not many boats for rent to practice in, so I decided to finish my apprenticeship in Europe. I then decided to go sailing in Spain. I had to go to the United States first to get my license validated in order to be able to sail in the Mediterranean waters.
Once I got my license I went straight to Spain and the first port I went to was Barcelona in the Olympic harbour. I then began sailing in Mallorca and Menora.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The first thing that sailing brings me is freedom and the fact that I have to prove my sailing skills to myself. When I’m sailing in the blue water I love to have the sky above me and the sea 360-degree views in front of me. In these moments you can realise your abilities and it’s a challenge for oneself. I’ve always had that little bug to challenge myself a little and enjoy nature that is extreme and that fills me with plenitude.
Describe each of the Balearic Islands
I will answer this question first in terms of the sea and then in terms of the land. In terms of the sea, sailing in the Mediterranean is different from sailing in the Pacific, basically because of the geographical limits. Sailing in the Mediterranean is a different feeling as the current, waves and wind come at you from all sides. You have to have very specialized knowledge to be able to sail this sea.
Regarding the nature of the islands and the infrastructure, I have to say that as a South American, what impressed me the most is the nautical and marine infrastructure on the islands. The selection of marinas is spectacular. As for describing the islands in one word:
- Menorca: relaxation and family atmosphere
- Majorca: explosive. It is more of a city.
- Ibiza: wonderful in terms of bays
What are your hobbies here on the islands?
What I love is walking and getting to know the places I go to. To feel the smells and aromas of the places. Getting to know the people. In Mallorca I did a lot of walking, seeing castles, churches, a lot of art, among other things. And of course sailing.
What’s the best story of your time sailing around the Balearics?
I was on the boat sailing with my wife and we were making a trip from Menorca to Barcelona. I had checked all the weather charts, everything was forecast to be perfect. We set off in the morning in what seemed to be perfect weather, but after a couple of hours of sailing, we suddenly got very strong winds. The winds started to come from all sides, from the bow, from the stern, from all sides! I had no way of communicating and I found myself in a storm that I had never seen in my life. In Chile I had never been through anything similar, on our coasts, there is no lightning, no storms. I had to go through winds of almost 40 knots and lightning that struck all over the place. It got dark and we lost our way. My wife was terrified. There were huge waves coming in over the bow. It was a night of terror… I left the autopilot on and at times the sleep began to overcome me. But we managed to control the situation and after a night that seemed to last forever, we reached the Olympic harbour safe and sound.
Which is your favourite beach in the Balearics?
Definitely, for me, the island with the most beautiful coves are the coves of Menorca. So quiet and peaceful.
What is your opinion about the future of the yachting industry in the Balearics?
It’s difficult to offer an opinion now because of the pandemic. But all these are lessons learned. For me, the future of the nautical industry is definitely in the Balearics. Nautical tourism is a sector of the tourism industry that attracts other countries, and for me, it should be advertised more in other countries to invite them because it has great potential.
What advantages do you think the yachting industry has in the Balearic Islands, compared to other places?
Definitely, all the facilities that the yacht clubs offer. Everything that surrounds the club, from restaurants, the buildings with all the 24-hour services for the boats, the beautiful beaches, etc.
What’s your proudest moment as a captain?
What I am most proud of is the freedom that sailing gives me. There is nothing more precious to a human being than to have this freedom of your time. This is something that fills me with great pride.
If you had to recommend the islands to another captain what would you say?
First of all, everything is experienced first through the eyes. By this, I mean that I would show what the Balearics have at their core. For me it is impressive to enter one of these marinas in the Balearic Islands and to see 400 boats, this is something very impressive that we did not imagine we would see here. The infrastructure provides a lot of facilities and a lot of security, the services offered are very good.