“If you don’t know how to kayak, you may as well give up now.”
So says this professional, in his pre-Adventurethon interview.
Clearly he has never met an adventurer of The Guild before.
We never give up.
And we don’t know how to do anything!
Due to the weather (there has just been a cyclone), the kayak route has been changed to send us around a calmer part of the island. I am not yet jumping for joy. Unless this becomes comedy stunt kayaking, I cannot see the next few hours going well for me.
I have kayaked once. Yesterday. I had to be rescued after three minutes. Today I have to kayak 13km in 20 knot winds…whatever that means.
Derek, however, has had an idea; I am to wear a skirt. I am unconvinced. I may know little about kayaking, but I cannot see how cross dressing will aid my balance. If anything, it will weigh me down if I fall into the sea.
It turns out Derek is referring to a kayak skirt; a waterproof barrier that will trap me inside the kayak and stop it filling with water, so it won’t capsize as easily. Should I still capsize, I simply release the skirt, escape, bail out the water, climb back aboard, reattached the skirt and continue…
I would prefer to try the cross dressing.
Alas, there is no time for fantasy; in a riptide of commotion the race is beginning!
I swear and, bracing myself for the worst, leap into my kayak with my skirts a-flapping. I may not be a kayaker, but I am also no craven – I shall strike out to sea, or I shall die trying!
I have a pretty clear idea which is more likely.
As it happens, neither is the case.
Salt! Sand! Skirts!
Within seconds of flopping into the kayak, I fall out and the breaking waves fill it with water. If there was ever a sign from the Gods that my voyage was cursed, this is it.
How much can a man do, in the face of his own flabbergasting incompetence?
Luckily, I am no mere man. I am a Guildsman. My incompetence knows no bounds!
As I stand on the shore questioning my very existence, yet another wonderful person from Something Something Something runs down the beach to assist me. My heart sinks like my sunglasses in yesterday’s disaster.
My fellow Adventurethoners are disappearing into the ocean. I have yet to stay afloat for long enough to bellow my defiance to the Heavens. I cannot kayak. I cannot even attach my own skirt.
I am, however, an Englishman…which makes me too polite to say, “Thanks mate, but fuck this.”
So, out of gratitude and a growing sense of despair, I accept his offer. We tip the water from my kayak and he holds it steady for me, as I make yet another attempt at the impossible. This time, however, I stay afloat…and remain afloat…
“YE GADS!” I bellow to the four winds, “THE GUILDSMAN COMETH!”
Within minutes, my arms burn. Within the hour, my hands are blistered to the point of agony. The salt wreaks havoc on my face and, as the bruises from my latest battle with the Bunnslayer scream with every stroke, I haul myself foot by foot towards the marker boy.
I know that if I fall in, I am doomed. I won’t be able to climb back in, I will have to be rescued. Again.
But I don’t fall in.
I sweat and I swear and I sing. I paddle extra kilometres around the rocks, to avoid having to turn in the growing swell. I pour every ounce of strength my ludicrous body possesses into fighting against the headwind that is set on pushing me out to sea, the bastard.
I don’t fall in. I stay afloat. Somehow.
By the time I reach the shore, I am numb. As friendly volunteers drag my kayak up the beach, I drag myself to the jetty, cleanse my face with clear water…and pick up my mountain bike.
Only 36km to go….and it is getting HOT.