Academically at least, I knew how Cormorant was meant to work, but in truth I had only ever sailed in a dinghy once or twice before, 25 years earlier. I had never rowed a boat either, so launching through the surf on my first outing may not have been the best idea. But June 4, 2007, was a gentle, warm day with little waves, and I wanted to establish my right to access the ocean just down the street from my house.
The ragged swell had calmed, but there were still good, three- to five-foot waves spinning along the cliff line at the point in the blue light of dawn. I pulled farther outside to get well clear of the surf, and Rudy and Aurelio buzzed past in their pangas with the other men, and we waved farewell to one another. I watched them until they disappeared seaward, the drone of the outboards getting fainter and fainter. I zipped my jacket up and settled back to pulling on the oars over the silky water, away from the last outpost of shelter and people.
Spain's tourism boom traces its roots to the rebuilding of the country after the dictator Francisco Franco -- the man most responsible for the "economic backwardness of Spain and the poverty of its people" that Frommer observed -- fell from power in 1975. But the Barcelona Olympics are widely credited with being Spain's big coming-out party, the catalyst that launched the country into the upper echelons of tourist destinations.