Sharks, barracudas and near misses

Sharks and the near misses……

I used to wear glasses – big (simply for the wide view) but also thick and without them I just couldn’t see. One day, looking over the stern, my glasses slipped off into the sea. Even in the crystal clear bathwater, I needed glasses to see the glasses – lost!!! – but for the rescuing by others I would have been knackered without at least one spare set…so I decided LASERING was for me.
With eyes a new, now sea spray was never a problem, I could snorkel without a prescription face-mask and I had a whole new visible sailing world. One thing I certainly didn’t realize was the number of sharks, barracuda and remoras there were all around the boat. Whereas in the past, diving over the side, without my glasses, I was totally oblivious to the dangers beneath my boat…now I could see them – barracudas in particular ….holy crap some are really BIG!!!

Six of us were snorkelling off Hope Town. Mark, a sun tanned muscly square jawed all American beef-cake was adrift, face down, big flippers splashing about….. the others were near the dinghy and one was aboard keeping an eye out for sharks… didn’t take long for the ubiquitous fin to be spotted in the distance, it was not a big one but big enough to take a chunk out of any leg. The whistle was sounded and all swimmers either slowly scrambled aboard or (at the whistle) were shocked into a porpoise-like leap without touching the sides!!!!. Mark, now about 150 yards away had not heard the whistle, we waved, shouted and all put fingers in our mouths to attempt a warning – to no avail…. We just had to get there before he was attacked, the engine spurted into life and at full speed we skimmed towards the bright speedos, he must have heard the engine for he looked up with a jerk, realized what we were pointing at and started swimming at speed towards us….we beat the shark to the three way meeting point by seconds, Mark leaped into the dink just as a sleek blue shadow skimmed beneath our hard bottom inflatable and carried on silenly……..

Bob [Tucan Dream] asked me if I would go diving with a spear on the Atlantic side of Bakers Bay. He wanted someone to keep a watch for his rear whilst he (alone) went deep into the reef seeking out a prize ‘Nassau Grouper’ he had spotted. A few minutes past to produce Bob’s spear stuck through a waggling fish appear above the clam waters….”Can you come in the water and swim BACKWARDS keeping a look out and I’ll land this in the dink to stop the blood attracting anything” he says to me?? “Eeerrr, yes OK” I say with trepidation….and so, two back-to-back bodies slowly make their slow way to the dink, the fish is safely aboard and I am looking under the water to see if anything is creeping up on us……..Back on board, Bob explains that a few weeks earlier, he was spearing in the same spot when a big Black-Tip shark came straight for him and a fish on the end of his spear, thinking that all it wanted was the fish, Bob pulled the spear back sharply to dislodge the catch but strangely the shark didn’t fall for the fish it kept coming for Bob, it had circled and was approaching at attack speed – without hesitation Bob put the spear at arms length pointing straight at the shark (which it didn’t see) only to impale itself amidst a foam of spray and bubbles at it thrashed abruptly and sank to the bottom……….thanks Bob for thinking of me!!!!

My friend and his wife came for a short visit. I wanted to take them to a lonely bay where I knew the water was shallow and where Sting Rays congregate to play near the shoreline. On this occasion, Brendal had brought his paying guests to feed the (tame?) rays with tit-bits in their toes, so we kept away to watch and to investigated nearby rocks, suddenly I noticed a huge black figure basking near a current flow through the rocks and I suggested to my guest that perhaps he and his wife should get back in the dink (which I said with a certain amount of haste and in a very obvious way) – looking at the shape whilst beckoning to him. He understood immediately – but his wife was oblivious and was simply waddling around bobbing with her arms raised and splashing about…this brought about VERY stern words of direction in a slow, loud and positive fashion “JENNY, GET IN THE DINK – NOW!!!!!, SLOWLY, AND STOP THAT BLOODY SPLASHING!!!” – “why??” came the unreasonable reply – “JUST GET BACK HERE – RIGHT NOW!!!!!” We both looked at each other, then at Jenny and then at the huge black mass weaving its way at right angles to our dink, trying to estimate its speed we willed Jenny to hurry …seconds after we lifted her straight into the safety of the dink – the shark skimmed the bottom like a torpedo……….needless to say she didn’t swim again an that visit.

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