Unique Activities in Barcelona: Stargazing From a Sailboat

Stargazing from a sailboat? In Barcelona? And in mid August, just in time for the annual Perseids ? YES, please!

perseids from a sailboat barcelona

Last month, in a spur of inspiration, I decided to add stargazing from a sailboat to my legendary, month-long goodbye party –  alongside the Casa Batllo rooftop concert, the piano concert at Palau de Musica, the weekend hike to the Pyrenees and to Mont Rebei gorge, the quickie to Andalucia… and many more. 

If I’ve not been writing a lot on the blog lately, it’s because I’m 100% dedicated to experiencing the awesomeness of my last weeks of Spain

(Yes, we’re leaving.  It’s a long story, and I’ll tell you about it later)

Perseids: A Brief History in Spain

But back to stargazing from a sailboat. The Perseids meteor shower is also known in Spain as Las Lágrimas de San Lorenzo, because its peak time is close to the Fiesta de San Lorenzo, when Christianity was condemned by the Roman Empire. The Roman emperor Valeriano proclaimed an edict of persecution, and he was burned alive at the stake on August 10. It is said that the martyr’s tears, lit by the fierce fire, looked golden.

The event coincides with this astronomical event, hence the reference.

Did you know:  

With a core diameter of about 26 km, comet Swift-Tuttle (the culprit behind the Perseids night show) is the largest known object, and one of the oldest comets, to regularly pass closely to our planet?

Those of you who’ve ever hunted the Perseids will know that the best time to watch a meteor shower is in the hours immediately before dawn.  This year (2019), the moon will set early in the morning, leaving a dark sky at the perfect moment to watch for shooting stars.

Perseids From a Sailboat: The Experience

The stargazing event sold out rather quickly, and we got tho the meeting point in the marina just as party people started to trickle out of the clubs. The piles of empty bottles and scattered garbage were disgusting – and everyone seemed to be riding their own personal (noisy) high – all the more reasons for us to sail outta there!

Dave and Dave were the skippers of our two shabby chic 50’s sailboats, each welcoming only six passengers – we got on a boat together with another couple (expats like us) and two Irish, visiting Barcelona for the weekend. The boat trip was the girl’s idea, of course.

Our skipper had moved out to Barcelona from Scotland some eight years ago, and his idea of star-hunting only came upon him recently (though I can see how this can become a best seller, and fast).

For a first time event, I have to say he was very organized prior to the trip, sending out messages both via email and Whatsapp, making sure we all find our way – and even waited 10 extra minutes, as we were trying to hunt down that rare, Sunday morning taxi not carrying a bunch of party animals home.

I had tried catching a glimpse at the shooting stars from the beach in past years, but there’s just too much light pollution in Barcelona. Out at sea however, far from the city lights, the show promises to be spectacular.

IF you’re lucky, and IF the gods feel generous that night.

4 AM start for star hunt!

Perseids & Managing Expectations

Perseids, and stargazing from a sailboat from a sailboat. Even the sound of it makes my eyes sparkle.

Because Perseids, when at peak activity, typically promise around a couple of shooting stars per minute. But, as you can guess from the grainy, cloud speckled skies in the picture above, not everything went according to our calculations.That is, clouds started gathering above the city as we were sailing out.

As a result, our star count was meager – for some, disappointing even: we got a glimpse at a pretty impressive fireball (bright enough to pierce through a crack in the clouds) within the first 10 minutes, then we saw 3 other shooting stars while out at sea. And that was it.

There should be expectation signs put up every place you go, cigns saying Nature at Work – since entitled homo sapiens seem to need constant reminders that Nature is not something you can control, or command.

And it’s important to factor this in, as you prepare for the experience. So, you may not see 100 shooting stars. You should, however:

  • enjoy Barcelona’s waterfront views – they come in pair (night & day)
  • let yourself hugged by the increasingly rare, human-free silence
  • prepare to be dazzled by a sunrise out at sea, which is an experience in itself!

Did you know:

Most Perseid meteoroids (or meteors, once they enter Earth’s atmosphere) are the size of sand grains? If you’re lucky, you’ll see a fireball – those are only as big as peas or marbles!

And after stargazing from a sailboat comes watching the sun rise out of the sea. Show some hands: how many of you can count their sunrises from a boat? Or seen a sunrise at all, recently?

If you want to check the 2020 Perseids events, here’s the owner’s contact and description: http://www.sailing.barcelona

  • One wooden sail boat built in 1947.
  • One professional skipper built in 1968.
  • Over 250 5-star reviews.
  • TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence & Hall of Fame 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.

Spain Tip:

If fireworks are your thing, and you happen to be in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria around this time in August, prepare to be doubly impressed:
“Los Fuegos de San Lorenzo” is a famous pyrotechnic spectacle of Gran Canaria that takes place on the night of 9 to 10 August,when thousands of kilos of fireworks light up the sky in San Lorenzo for a full 30 minutes  

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