Day 14 Fri 20th May 2011
Up very early today so that we can get the shuttle service & jump on the Baz Bus headed down towards Hermanus. We get picked up by Emma one of the girls who works at the hostel we are staying at called Hermanus Backpackers. We arrive & get a tour of the surrounding area hopefully we will get to see some whales while we are here. At this time of year the males apparently head this way to check out the surrounding waters. They then head off again to give the females the 'fins up' to come back and get jiggy with it! We check into our hostel get changed then go out for a walk along the coastal bay, it's absolutely gorgeous here & the water is so calm, but no whales as of yet. We stop in for a drink at a bar called Cabana's which is on the second floor, you can see right across the bay it is just stunning. We check out the locals markets & the guys are desperate to sell to us. First its special winter offer then its special Friday offer. We tell them that every day was special and head off to grab a bite to eat. Then its back to the hostel to mingle with fellow backpackers. We head off to bed pretty early as we have a very early start the next day.
Day 15 Sat 21st May 2011
Shark Cage Diving Day!!
OK so I suppose it's safe to say that we both woke up today feeling pretty nervous! Trish was afraid of being sea sick and I was afraid of ……..erm……..SHARKS!!!
We get picked up from our hostel on a mini bus at about 7am and have about a 45min drive down to Gainsbaai. At the shark diving offices we are not exactly put at ease, on the walls are huge posters of these massive animals leaping out of the water! If we weren't s***ting ourselves beforehand we defiantly are now! Another short drive down to the harbor and we all get onto the boat. Everybody is pretty optimist, we have spoken to loads of people prior to the trip that have been giving us little tips and tricks on how to avoid being sea sick, things like focus on the horizon, take travel sickness pills, eat tinned peaches and drink ginger beer! (All that registered with Dan was 'drink beer' if I'm honest).
So there we are skimming across the ocean towards Dyer Island armed with travel sickness pills and a pack of ginger nut biscuits! Praying that the sea is calm!!
AND IT IS!!!
We are told by our guide that when the sea is calm it's not particularly good for shark viewing, as the chum doesn't carry and the sharks in the area don't pick up the scent. This turns out to be total rubbish however as within 30 seconds of dropping anchor a 3 meter shadow is circling the boat! 2 minutes later there are 2 of them! These things are MAHOOSIVE! If ever there was a time when I really didn't want to get wet, its now!
Everybody on the boat start getting into their wetsuits as Trish and I stand on the top deck of the boat taking some amazing photos! We watch as the first batch get into the cage and the guy with the bait throws a fish head attached to a rope into the water. The sharks go to try the bait out just as the guy pulls it out of their reach and back onto the boat again before casting it out for another pass. He does this for about half an hour before one of the shark's attacks the bait as its being pulled in and smashes into the cage! It thrashes about for a second or two before swimming off again. Needless to say the water around the cage is now a little cloudy.
So now it's our turn to suit up as there is no way that we are going to be the only people that don't get into the cage. Being the gentleman that I am I push Trish in first!
Getting into the cage was the easy part if I'm honest, getting over how cold the water was and getting used to wearing the mask was the hard part! We both take a minute or so to adjust when the guys on the boat shout "SHARK LEFT!" We all submerge ourselves and in the heat of the moment I look right!!
If the sharks looked big on the surface, that's nothing compared to what they look like down there. All these documentary shows really don't do them justice. They swim past the cage like they own the ocean (I guess because they do) giving you the evil eye as they pass. Seeing them attacking the bait from below the water in the cage was just amazing, however we were so glad that the cage was there!
After 20 mins down there the guys on the boat pull us out of the cage. We are so happy that we did it. We sit on the boat for a while longer watching the sharks go for the bait. All in all about 7 sharks came to play. Having just about dried off and just getting over the shivers the guys on the boat ask if anybody wants to go in again. Trish doesn't want to (they said it's much colder second time round), but Dan's game! So down he goes again and I'm so glad that I did! 2 sharks are around the boat and they are both nudging the bait with no joy. The guy on the other end of the line is far too quick for them. He throws the bait back in just as one of the sharks makes a pass. It's really eerie how these huge animals are there one minute and then they just disappear into the murky water then next. All of us in the cage are looking around to see if we can spot one when this big old boy comes flying up from beneath us and hits the bait, launching itself completely out of the water! As it lands it smashes into the cage and then swims off dazed but satisfied. I get back onto the boat to discover that Trish managed to get an awesome photo of the shark halfway out the water. We are both so chuffed!!
We head back to the offices for a lovely & well deserved lasagna, beer & glass of wine! We get to watch the video that was filmed throughout the day but decide that we have some amazing pics & films anyway so we don't buy it. We head back to our hostel & end up having a snooze as we are totally shattered from all the adrenalin, emotion & excitement from the day!
This has got to be one of the best days so far!!