TEAM: Jon Bowermaster • Pete McBride • Alex Nicks • Domagoj Papac • Shane Braddock• Melita Peharda • Steve Rogerson PHOTOS: Peter McBride
Croatia is Border Land. The country lays on the geographic margin between central Europe and the Balkans, between the Adriatic and the Continent. Its very shape speaks of the divide. There is nothing compact, square or secure. Instead it curves around Bosnia and Herzegovina in a narrow arc, like a crescent moon or a boomerang. At no point is Croatia more than a few hundred miles wide; in most places it is much less.
Our goal, during the summer of 2005, was to kayak its length, through the 1,246 islands lying like marbles atop what astronauts claim is the bluest sea on the planet, the Adriatic. Of those, a spare 67 are inhabited and many are smaller than three acres. All told, the Croatian coast is home to one of the largest archipelagos in the Mediterranean and looks like a barer, wonderfully shattered, more sun-drenched Maine.
Joined by my two longtime running mates, photographer Peter McBride and videographer Alex Nicks, we would kayak 400 miles, from Zadar to Dubrovnik, barely touching the mainland during five weeks.
The longest island we passed was Dugi Otok, 35 miles long. But this jewel of an island, just south of Teslasic National Park, is more typical of what we would see; small, rocky, covered by scrub pines and maybe – maybe -- one family house.