It is one of those things that looks super attractive from a distance but once you get closer the beauty soon fades. And from a distance it also looks elegantly simple. Gliding along like swans on the River Thames. What a marvellous way to explore, only the whisper of the sea to fill your ears. The reality couldn’t be more opposite.
“Let’s have a day off this Sunday and rent your kayaks,” said my wife, “we could go for a romantic paddle,” she smiled. My only real experience with kayaks before had been, to say the least, unsuccessful. We had rented them on the lakes of Mljet hoping to get “up close and personal” with nature. The only thing that got “up close” was our oars as they continually banged into each other. In the hour that we rented the kayak for we never got out of eyesight of the man who had rented them to us. It was “circle” upon “circle” as we struggled to make any progress. That was a few years ago and quite clearly my wife had more confidence that this time we would actually move in a relatively straight line.
“How long do you want to rent the kayaks for,” questioned the friendly man on the Srebreno beach. I wanted to answer 5 minutes but instead “How about an hour but if we are longer we will make up the difference.” I have always found that actually getting into a kayak is one of the most inelegant sights, especially when I am the one trying to “mount” the kayak. But surprisingly easily we climbed into our “speedboat” and bobbed like a plastic duck in a bath tub while deciding our destination.
“Let’s head towards Beterina and decide where to go from there,” shouted my wife over her shoulder. Confidence was coursing through her veins. I on the other hand was more sceptical. After three strokes, I remembered why I hated kayaking. Well hated might be too strong a word. We had just started and already our plastic bathtub was facing towards Italy. The Mljet saga, or as I call it “lost of the lakes” came flooding back.
From the terraces of the café bars we probably resembled a crab scrabbling from left to right trying to avoid being eaten by a seagull. “Start with the left and then right,” I cried. “Ready, one, two , three,” I added. Yes, you’ve guessed it she put her right oar in and me the left. “Not the right the left,” desperation was sinking in. “OK, new plan you just row and I will follow you,” I said. This kind of worked. Yes, we were snaking along from side to side but generally we were going forwards. We had just cleared the ropes that beaches put up to stop boats coming close to the beach and it was time to stop for a break. Yes, it would have been quicker to walk to Beterina.
I jokingly added “Do you think our hour is up yet?” No reply. Why, oh why thousands of people every year decide to jump in a kayak every year at circle around Lokrum I will never know. Jump on Skala its much easier and more relaxing. The thought of bobbing up and down for 5 hours around Lokrum with the sun beating down sounds more like a form of torture than enjoyment. But each to their own, or as the English say, horses for courses.
Beterina was getting closer. We sailed past the nudist beaches. I couldn’t help thinking that early colonists must have seen similar sights in the Pacific as they approached remote islands. Lines of naked people on the beach waving. We waved back. But when we waved our body parts didn’t shake and jiggle as the people on the beach. “Shall we go to Kupari now,” suggested my wife.
I first needed to cool off. So I abandoned ship and rolled into the sea. If I thought it was hard getting into a kayak on the beach, getting into one when you are hanging in the sea is even tougher. After a few attempts I clambered back into the bathtub…sorry kayak. “Kupari here we come.” I looked jealously at a jet ski whizz past us. And then a tiny boat with a family out for a picnic on the sea.
Mark Twain once quoted ““We all go through a challenge in life because without a challenge there’d be no reason to keep going toward your future.” Funnily enough he wrote that in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We weren’t on the Mississippi but the Adriatic, but the challenge to reach Kupari was real enough. “Were we longer than an hour,” I said with aching shoulders as we crawled back up the beach. “Slightly, but no extra charge,” he smiled. I guess he felt sorry for us.