Roger and Barry kayak around the Spanish islands of Mallorca and Menorca

WE TALK to Roger Chandler about his and friend Barry Shaw's recent kayak challenge around the Spanish islands of Mallorca and Menorca.

Roger Chandler pictured with his friend Barry. The pair recently went on

Roger Chandler pictured with his friend Barry Shaw. The pair recently went on a kayak challenge to paddle around the Spanish island of Mallorca.


ROGER CHANDLER and Barry Shaw are two friends with one big thing in common – they both have careers which are centred around the sport of kayaking. Roger runs the kayaking business www.coastalspirit.com and Barry is a sea kayak guide.


The pair recently decided to test themselves against the Spanish waters and headed off on an 11-day adventure to kayak around the islands of Mallorca and Menorca. Here Roger talks to us about that challenge and some of the highs and lows of the paddle. Read on to find out about the great camaraderie shared by the friends as well as what the bold pair may have planned next.


What made you come up with your idea for your Spanish challenge and could you tell us a bit more about what the challenge entailed?


I like to do something challenging and fun for myself each year plus a bigger personal paddle every other year. I was focused on paddling around Corsica and while talking with my friend Barry two months before he had mentioned he was interested in doing a paddle too. Barry had paddled around Corsica before and gong with a mate made sense rather than solo, so we started to consider other paddle options. I had also attempted, nine years ago, to paddle around Mallorca, yet the weather had beaten us and we had run out of time. A rematch was very attractive and some early season sunshine was welcome.


It was over a 1,500km drive and two ferries to get to Mallorca. We decided to drive to Dover and get the car ferry to Dunkirk. Drive through France to Spain and get the second ferry from Barcelona to Alcudia on Mallorca, as it was 100 Euros cheaper than getting a ferry to Palma!.


We left at 5am on the Saturday and arrived on the Monday morning at 5am, and looked for somewhere to park up, waiting for the morning to begin!


Both men's careers are centred around kayaking so they were prepared for what the sea would throw at them.

Both men’s careers are centred around kayaking so they were prepared for what the sea would throw at them.


Around Mallorca


We decided to drive and start on the south side of the island, at Colonia de Sant Jordi due to lighter winds, smaller sea state and then paddle around anti clockwise. Overall, the winds looked like they would work better for us this way around.

The sea was an amazing blue and feeling the warmth of the sun was great, yet finding somewhere to camp was a challenge. In the end we found a small cove with a rocky entrance that once we landed, opened up and had lots of places to put a couple of tents up. This became a theme, the challenge of finding somewhere to camp!


Day four was an outstanding day with raw beauty and majestic tall rock faces climbing out of the sea. An increasing helpful wind and swell pushed us along the coast to the stunning and dramatic Sa Colobra for lunch and then on to Port de Valldemossa to camp. This allowed us enough time to hang out our paddle kit and tents to dry in the sun. I even managed a swim!


In total we had taken seven days, although partly this wasn’t through choice. It was difficult to find wild camp spots and we found out afterwards, you can get fined for wild camping, if caught. We made the distance to be 280km although we tended to go from headland to headland and overall we were fairly lucky with being able to do that with a wind on our backs.


The adventure involved camping on the shore of the Spanish islands.

The adventure involved camping on the shores of the Spanish islands.


Around Menorca


We had the one kayak trolly, so we would try to walk the kayaks on, one at a time on to the ferry. Getting the two kayaks on from Alcudia was fine and no cost, but getting them off was more difficult! We were told by the boss we had to move the sea kayaks as one unit and with full kit and 12 litres of water that was challenging. Plus it was at least a 30-minute portage from the ferry port to the beach. We chose again to go around anti clockwise, due to the winds blowing on the North coast, so we could gain the shelter from the south coast.


Smaller cliffs but with stunning beaches, caves and a real mix history. Our first night was the most exciting as we paddled away form our start point into a setting sun and then on into darkness, looking for a suitable beach to camp on. I think we finally found a good beach and started to set up camp at 2330!


Another small cove we camped at, with just a ten minutes walk brought us to a beach bar, with free wifi, toilets and a cold beer!


The NE corner was the most challenging with bigger swell and clearly no places to easily land for 15 to 20 km. We made it about 120km around the island, but again we were able to cross from headland to headland on the North coast, if you had to keep closer in the mileage would go up. With the evening paddle on the first day and three further days we were around Menorca. To be honest i felt like going around again and this time much slower. After Mallorca, finding places to easily camp/bivi was such a relief and the island was so green and softer. We had been told that camp/biving was almost part of their culture.



The pair were looking forward to the warmer Spanish climes but still had some not so pleasant weather elements to deal with.


Open crossing from Menorca to Mallorca


We landed back at Ciutadella and discussed options. I was super keen for the crossing, so headed off for more lunch-type food and some more water, while Barry went off to the ferry port to clarify ferry times. We both met back at a cafe with wifi and decided to find a sheltered bay, to camp again for the night and if the forecast held for the morning we would both go for the crossing.


The wind was a 12-14mph East, there about, but 3-4km limited viability. Not ideal, but at least the wind was in a helpful direction. The main channel was about 40km across so we felt seven hours and that would be done, then it was about getting back to Alcudia and where my van was. We set off on a bearing and after one-and-a-half hours we lost sight of land and worked on finding some rhythm… as we left the shelter of the island the swell got more confused and running at two different angles making my sea kayak more difficult to manage.


Around the five hour mark we saw Mallorca, but to be honest it was confusing and disorientating. What part of the island was it? I’d left my Mallorca map in the van. Well, it was sunny when we left and I could see the whole island from Menorca! Around seven hours, 30 minutes we had reached the southern headland of Alcudia Bay and now the job was to paddle and find the van. Ten hours 40 minutes and over 60 km paddled, the job was done. We were wet, tired and hungry, so we changed and loaded the kayaks. We were pleased with our adventure.


The whole trip was 11 days, involved two islands, one open crossing, about 460 km paddled and a 3,000 km drive.


Personally I would like to thank www.p&hseakayaks.com for the demo Cetus mv I paddled and in particular to Mathew Wilkinson for sorting this out.


The challenge invovled

The challenge involved each of the friends paddling 460km.


Tell us about the buddy you went with and what was it like facing the adventure together?


We had done a few significant paddles together before and it seemed simple sharing time on and off the water. Barry has got a great sense of humour, well most of the time any way, and is pretty easy going. We gave each other space when we felt the other needed it. The day we landed at Cala Sant Vicenc for more drinking water and a coffee for me it only took 20 minutes for us to decide to stay, rather than push on. Conditions were increasing and at this time we were at two meters, plus we had a a 20km committing section with no landing and it was our holiday! It was joint decision to stay and find a room rather than huddle in our tents and weather out the storm!


There were days when the weather and waters lived up to expectations.

There were days when the weather and waters lived up to expectations.


Tell us about some of the highs and lows and the scenery and people you encountered on your way?


Day six on Mallorca had the promise of being a beautiful day. We had the crossing of Palma Bay and 45 minutes into this crossing and the wind suddenly increased from a gentle 6/7 mph to 19 to 25 mph, then aggressive gusts of 30mph, pushing us out of the bay! In the gusts I ticked over, keeping a low profile, and then as they eased I increased my cadence to try to gain the ground I had just lost. Thankfully one hour latter the front had passed. We were wet and cold, and it was not what we expected from sunny Mallorca!


Some highlights included: finding a good hostel for the night, close to the bay we had left our sea kayaks in Cala Sant Vicenc and having an amazing pizza, while the storm blew through; seeing an Osprey on the SW corner of Mallorca; and paddling around Cap De Formentor, the most northerly point of Mallorca and seeing the north coast stretching out.


One of the more challenging times included the difficulty in finding suitable spots to camp along Mallorca, this became tiring and a little stressful, while Menorca was a delight with so many easy accessible beaches and this was a real highlight.


Also, the crossing back from Menorca to Mallorca was difficult. I had imagined doing it in sunshine and short sleeves, but that wasn’t an option.


Seeing Mallorca and then seeing my van, those were true highlights!


How did the challenge take its toll on your bodies and how important was it having someone by your side spurring you on?


Barry works in freelance capacity as a sea kayak guide and I run a sea kayaking company www.coastalspirit.com, so we both have a more restful winter. We have more opportunity to play and paddle for our selves, so doing this paddle in late Spring was perfect. We both were pretty paddle fit and had been going to the gym, which really helped, yet adjusting to a fully laden boat we had to keep in mind. Its great sharing an adventure with a buddy. Driving my van down through Spain would have been a real challenge bye myself, yet it was so much more easy with the two of us.


The friends found time for celebration during the gruelling days of kayaking.

The friends found time for celebration during the gruelling days of kayaking.


Will you be back out to Spain anytime soon and are there any other areas of the countries waterways you would like to explore and paddle on?


I would love to return to Menorca and maybe Ibiza. Menorca has a very welcoming coastline. The south coast with its glorious sandy coves and amazing beaches. While the north coast has bigger cliffs and feels more remote but still some super big sandy bays. It would work well I feel on a paddleboard, due to lots of camping/bivi options. Plus Ibiza early in the season could really work and that would be great to explore – you will be the first to know if I manage to pull either off on a paddleboard!


And as to other Countries and waterways… YES!

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