A year and a half ago I stepped onto a paddleboard for the first time to start a journey down the length of the river Thames. Following woefully little planning, we ended up having to walk for the whole first day to find the source of the river, and discovered that the actual journey would take twice as long as we though it would!
Several days later, paddling along Regent’s canal in London, we bumped into a whole group of London paddleboarders heading towards us. One of them was Kiko Matthews. We chatted for about 10 minutes before parting ways, and that was probably the last time I have been on a paddleboard as well as last time I saw Kiko for that matter. Now, together with Charlie Head and Will Rogers, we have just completed a circumnavigation of Ibiza, the famous party capital of the Mediterranean.
Paddling on the sea offers so many more challenges than a river, and whereas on the Thames you can pull into a pub for lunch or sneak off to a B&B for the night, Ibiza out of season offers far less options for escape. On the other hand going with people that know how to paddle was a huge bonus, in terms of making it round within the week and getting some sound advice on paddle technique, as well as having the comfort of knowing someone with the stature of a Norse God is there to tow you to safety should something go wrong!
Each night we camped in a different place. Whether it was a deserted beach, abandoned hut, empty restaurant or island in the center of Ibiza town, each was unique and memorable, made more so by the decision not to take a sleeping bag, which kept me awake through the night to enjoy every moment of the campsite. Truthfully though the lack of a sleeping bag didn’t make much difference after we started using the tents. I even had enough layers to use my fleece as a pillow – what a luxury!
Our second day was almost a complete blow out. At the time I was pretty grateful as it gave my body a brief respite from the first day, which had been pretty rough (relative to the Thames anyway). We moved campsites from an abandoned shack to the porch of a restaurant which had closed for the season. After the rain and storm passed we got another early night, heading to bed on the balcony in what we thought was a sheltered corner. However in the middle of the night a massive downpour and strong gusting winds woke us in a panic! Luckily it passed quickly enough, pretty much in the exact amount of time it took to put up my tarp…
After the stormy day, the sea remained peaky and I spent a fair amount of time sitdown paddleboarding instead of standing, although when the sun was shining I did adopt the hunched position of an old man trying to balance on the tube. Despite the rough seas, on the whole the wind was with us and we made good progress, though there were a few moments when the wind swung round and pushed us off shore, making me genuinely worried that I might get swept off to Africa!
By the last day the sea was dead calm, and it was just a case of paddling onward to the finish line, where we celebrated with a one euro bottle of bubbly that was verging on revolting and a massive seafood paella before heading to the airport to fly home. Another incredible journey and a unique way of enjoying the lesser known sights of Ibiza!