Have you ever jumped off a boat into the ocean, before you’ve considered how you’re going to get back in? There was a movie that came out a few years ago about a similar situation: young, hip peeps on a yacht, sailing the high seas, much drinking and debauchery going orn… A few jump in, but a young mum decides to stay on the boat with her behbeh. But then the larrikin of the film decides “Wouldn’t it be funny if I body slam her into the water?” and does it and then ALL the adults are in the water and ONE little behbeh is on the boat and then somebody realises that no one has put a ladder down and there’s no conceivable way to get back on board. It’s a pretty big yacht. It’s the sort you might go to a party on in Cannes. Or Cancun. You can’t throw your bikini top into the air hoping to use it as a rope to climb up the boats’ slippery sides (even though topless babes makes for great viewing in a Hollywood schlocker). You can’t get a boost from your mate. You can’t ask your screaming infant to lower a ladder. Pretty soon sharks start circling and they all die.
Sorry to give away the ending. I didn’t tell you what it was called though.
Fortunately things weren’t so dramatic on Saturday, but shiver me timbers, they could have been.
Rich and I arrived in Jelsa, Croatia on Thursday evening and met our friends Sarah and Ben at the dock for a beer. Our time here has been filled with a whole lotta nothing. Reading. Sleeping. Eating. Swimming. And that’s been about it.
On the weekend we decided we really oughta kick things up a notch and have an adventure. Jelsa is full of dinky little tourist centres hiring out bikes and kayaks and boats. Little boats. Not big scary yachts like the one in that movie. Just a little boat with an outboard motor and a shade cloth and some buoys attached to the sides. We thought we’d try our hand at boating to a secluded bay for an afternoon of swimming and reading.
After a quick lesson in how to drive a boat (how to start it, speed up, reverse, when to lower the gas, when to drop the anchor) and some very relaxed directions on which way to go, we were off. Sea breeze in our hair! Smell of petrol in our lungs! Splash of the ocean on our arms! It was bumpy and scary and fun!
We put-putted our way past several inlets with swimming Croats and anchored boats, but none of these sand-less bays were for us.
On we went.
As we neared the end of the peninsula (and the furthest point on the map provided) we said “What about here?” – no one else was around. We were close enough to the rocky shore for a quick pitstop if we needed a break from swimming and some sun. And it seemed like a nice spot.
We downed anchor.
Rich jumped in first, then me, then Sarah, then Ben. The water was juuuuuust right – refreshing, but not cold, and clear and YES – this was it! The adventure we’d been looking for!! We swam and laughed and splashed and frolicked.
It was the perfect setting for a Hollywood shark movie.
As I swam around the back of the boat, I was careful not to swim into the rope attached to the anchor. Yup, there’s the rope. And the water was so clear, I could follow it down and down and down and down and… holy hell, how deep is this water???? It was REALLY deep. Like, really, super, dooper, into the abyss deep. Suddenly I started thinking about what else was in the water. Like sharks. Are there sharks in the Adriatic? I don’t think there are, but in that moment, I convinced myself that we were surrounded and that a pack of sharks were plotting their attack. I’m pretty sure that sharks are generally fairly solitary creatures, but not in this nightmarish fantasy – no siree. These Croatian sharks hung out in packs of 10, 20, 100.
I swam back to the boat and clung to the side. For a moment I actually had Jaws-eye-vision of myself: a hungry shark below me, looking up, seeing the dark, triangular shape of our dinghy with two pasty legs silhouetted in the sunshine.
“I think I’m going to get back on the boat now”, I called to the others, keeping my death-by-shark premonition to myself, “Yep, I’m just gonna climb on in. You guys just keep having a good time though”.
And with that, I grabbed onto a peg on the side of the boat and pulled myself up and… promptly splashed back into the water. Having no upper body strength whatsoever, and not being the most agile of dames, this was going to be much harder than I had initially thought.
“Hoooiiikkkkkkk” I groaned, trying once again to pull myself up.
Rich came over to give me a hand.
“Stand on my leg and push yourself up” he instructed.
But he had nothing underneath him to ground himself, so as soon as I put my weight against him, he sunk, I sunk, we were no closer to getting me aboard.
Ben volunteered to get back into the boat so that he could pull me in.
Ben is a whole lotta things I am not: a man, for one thing. A strong swimmer. Rowers shoulders. Wily and strong. And when I saw HIM struggle to get back on board, I started to worry… My hopes of being dragged aboard in a graceful fashion was fading.
Needless to say, I was not dragged aboard. Rich could not push me and Ben could not pull me and I worried that my arms would be ripped from their sockets and I splashed back into the water…
I started to panic.
Then, I saw a solution. The rocks. OF COURSE! I would swim over to the rocks, the boat would sidle up beside me, I would jump spritely aboard and be saved! Hurrah!!
The perfect plan.
I doggy-paddled my way to the smooth flat rocks in the distance. Heck, it looked so nice over there I might even sit on a rock for a while, while the others continued their swim!
The closer I got, my eyes focussed not on smooth, sun-bleached boulders, but jagged, craggy, mollusc covered shards of pointy hell. This was not going to be easy. But I was damn well going to do it. I could NOT leap into a boat from the water, but I could possibly get in while precariously balancing on a sharp-as-glass rock.
As Ben brought the boat in, I realised that this plan was not as fool-proof as I had hoped. The rocks were jagged, yes, and they weren’t just on the shore; they were UNDER the water as well (that’s surprising, isn’t it? That rocks can be all around?). When you combine a boat with lapping waves and a rocky shoreline, that’s usually not the greatest recipe for safety either.
The motor was cut, and the boat drifted closer. The rock I was currently perched on was not going to be close enough, so I slid back into the water, careful not to step on any anemones (that’s a funny combination of words), and hoisted myself onto a platform closer to the boat. With pain searing through the palms of my hands, my knees, my feet and my bum, I quickly scrambled aboard our trusty dinghy. Which was now stuck on aforementioned rocks.
Slowly and with expert precision, Rich and Ben eased us off using our emergency oars, and…. SUCCESS! We were off. Yet again. With frayed nerves and bleeding hands, we sailed into the sunset, ready to enjoy cocktails in the evening heat.