barcostop
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Barcostop. The adventure of traveling by sailboat

  • Alvaro G
By Álvaro García
26 April, 2020
Paula Gonzalvo is an example of inspiration for those who are thinking of making a change in their lives. At the age of 26, she left what ordinary people understand by "everyday life", to set sail from the Canary Islands, heading to America.

Without previous experience and without knowledge of sailing, she settled in the Canary Islands in search of a boat to cross "the pond" and since then she has not stopped sailing. Paula tells us for Sailwiz's blog her story, what is Barcostop and what are her projects.
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  • What leads an architect from Castellón, who is starting her professional career to leave everything and start traveling the world by boat?
  • What did you think the experience would be like when you first embarked and how do you see it today?
  • What has it meant for you, on a personal level, to enter the world of sailing?
  • What exactly is "Barcostop"? Can you really travel by boat for free?
  • Is Barcostop a more developed trend outside of Spain?
  • At Sailwiz many users ask us what it's like to travel by boat, in such a small space, with strangers. Who do you think that sharing the boat is intended for?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is encouraged to try it, so that the experience is positive?
  • Since you made that first crossing you have not stopped sailing. Tell us, which seas have you sailed? What destinations have surprised you the most?
  • And what new destinations would you like to discover in the future?
  • People will wonder, how can you live so long sailing from boat to boat around the world? Do you have to have savings or can you earn some income?
  • How has your evolution been as a sailor since you started?
  • What about the projects you have for the future?

What leads an architect from Castellón, who is starting her professional career to leave everything and start traveling the world by boat?

The desire to know the world. I sensed that there was something beyond what I had experienced, much more, and that the conditions were the best; I was in good health and my family too. I was young, with a finished university career and eager to know and learn everything that I could not perhaps later on, due to health problems, family problems, future ties,… it was the best time.
Barco-stop
Paula Gonzalvo

What did you think the experience would be like when you first embarked and how do you see it today?

I really had no expectation of that first Atlantic journey beyond thinking that it was going to be physically hard and that it would end up with my hands destroyed by the end, but I truly did not have any idea what would come...

Obviously she was very wrong. We hardly had to touch the sails and it turned out to be an inner journey rather than a physically demanding journey.

What has it meant for you, on a personal level, to enter the world of sailing?

A change of values, a new perspective of how to face life.

Sailing implies being present, as the now is very important. Experience is the basis for a good journey and the ability that develops on board which allows you to reach your destination.



Time, hours for oneself, are much more appreciated, the relationship with people on a personal level (not virtual) is highly valued, and you also learn to be with yourself, to overcome adversities quickly and to adapt to new situations easily.

What exactly is "Barcostop"? Can you really travel by boat for free?

Barcostop is to travel as a crew on a sailboat, exchange work on board for the experience of traveling by sea. I always say that it is not free travel, it is an economic trip.

Normally expenses are shared among the entire crew of food, diesel, moorings, which is usually well priced, more or less about 5-25 euros per day; but it is difficult to generalize, it completely depends on the model of the sailboat, cruise and type of trip.

Conditions also vary a lot if you have experience on board or if the shipowner needs help from an experienced person on board.

Is Barcostop a more developed trend outside of Spain?

It is undoubtedly better known among countries such as France, England, Holland ...
Consejos para el barcostop y viajar en velero como tripulante

At Sailwiz many users ask us what it's like to travel by boat, in such a small space, with strangers. Who do you think that sharing the boat is intended for?

For tolerant, respectful people, with patience, adaptability and a very good attitude.

Right now that we are living confined at home we can realize the importance of good coexistence, time management and routine.

What advice would you give to someone who is encouraged to try it, so that the experience is positive?

That you first do an interview at least with the person responsible on board (face-to-face or virtual), sharing values, similar ways of doing things will make the journey much more pleasant (in addition, of course, that the sailboat is in good condition, meeting security measures and the captain has experience).

And that, if you can, document about the area to sail or the sailing itself, when you have knowledge, even if it is basic, of what you are doing so you enjoy much more.
Barcostop y Cruce Atlántico - PreguntasRespuestas. 01 #compartomomentos

Since you made that first crossing you have not stopped sailing. Tell us, which seas have you sailed? What destinations have surprised you the most?

I know some areas of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Biscay Gulf, the English Channel, a large part of the Iberian peninsula and some ports and coves of the Canary Islands. Some things about destinations that have surprised me:
  • About life on board I loved being able to live a season in San Blas, Panama.
  • To sail and learn about land, culture and history, the Ionian in Greece.
  • To sail more technically, the Isle of Wight in England.

And what new destinations would you like to discover in the future?

Saying that every spot I do not know perhaps sounds like too many destinations for this question ... In the short term, Iceland catches my attention, and Mexico too.

People will wonder, how can you live so long sailing from boat to boat around the world? Do you have to have savings or can you earn some income?

Before these two questions, savings and income, what is really important is spending.

At least in my case, I tried to spend as little as possible, without having any commitment in my bank account, the only thing I spent in that season was essential food and if I had nowhere to sleep, I would stay in a hostel, and spend less than € 10 daily. I always tried to stay in places where I could participate in local projects where they offered to exchange a few hours of work for food and accommodation. And then I transferred this to the ships.

And yes, you can earn income by traveling too, at first I started working as a cook to gain experience and gradually go up to deck jobs.

How has your evolution been as a sailor since you started?

Well ... very intense. About a year or so after I began traveling and sailing, I decided that I would leave my career in architecture parked to plunge fully into the sea, I set myself the goal of becoming a captain, not theoretical but feeling capable of being it by experience, miles sailed. This meant leaving aside many other things that I did before, but I have loved the way to become one, I have really enjoyed it.

What I don't normally count is that the same time I spent to go from beginner to captain in sailing, I also spent it on social networks and the company. For me the 3 worlds were completely new, and now I still find it hard to think that I have a YouTube channel with more than 20,000 followers, I organized a unique astronomical journey and I have already traveled more than 25,000 miles.

So ... yes, the evolution has been very intense.

What about the projects you have for the future?

Due to restrictions by Covid I had to postpone some training workshops that we had organized in Greece; we were going to cross the Corinth canal! It remains on the to-do list to return as soon as we can.



The next big project is the Stella Oceani astronomical journey, an ocean voyage in which we propose sailing ships to sail as before, with a sextant. We compete, but not in speed; it is about seeing which is the most accurate sailboat in calculating its position. It will be held the first week of November.
  • Alvaro G
    Álvaro García
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