So, the day of my shark dive!!! After a hearty breakfast we kitted up and loaded the boat, once the boat was all ready we headed down to the beach, boat in tow.
This was said to be a rough beach launch, I doubted the need for the life jackets that were given to us. Once in the estuary, we had to wait once in the estuary mouth for a large enough wave to surge over the evidently shallow sand bank that lay between us an the open ocean. It took several attempts to get over the obstacle, but when we had enough clearance he opened the throttle of both 100bhp engines and we hit two waves one after the other hard, sending the 20ft rib clean out the water on both.
Once at the shark location we were given the choice to call the dive off and go back, since the water visibility was so bad. Water 'viz' was one of my concerns since I want to be able to see the sharks, and make sure I can keep an eye out for those rogue monsters.. We decided we might as well give it ago on the plankton full water, even if we couldn't see further than 8m! We watched the chopped sardines and fish oils get thrown into a bait drum and dangles into the water beneath a buoy. There were two bait drums on the same line at different depths. The deepest drum was to attract the more deadly sharks, bull and tiger sharks!!
After a 30 minute brief about keeping your hands tucked away and leg movement to a minimum, distances, depth and suck like we were gearing up. As we were sat on the edge of the rib ready to launch in backwards, our instructor said, worse case scenario is we get face to face with a 5m tiger shark, in which case you shout and make yourself as big as you can, although you will still probably die!! Great bit of confidence before the dive.. I looked down behind me and saw fins everywhere, penetrating the water surface, silver streaks whizzing by underneath! Im about to go into that mass of muscle and teeth backwards, What am I thinking?! Final checks again air, regulator, gauges and weights. I opted for the same weights as usual even though I'm wearing a more buoyant wetsuit...
Turns out the water is freezing cold, and my buoyancy is all wrong. I couldn't sink! All the air out of my lungs and BCD I couldn't descend! I was being bashed around, sharks bumping into my legs and back, adding to the problem. Watching my instructor going down and still thrashing around on the surface was scary. I could feel myself starting to panic! Teaching people to dive I see people panic all the time, especially when they first breathe with their head under water. When it's happening to me I had a blank, thrashing around and trying to get down with a surface dive!?!?! Closing my eyes and 2 deep breaths later I thankfully started to slowly descend down to the group who were making a semi circle around the first bait bucket (9m). Sharks were everywhere, so many I didn't have a clue what they were, deadly or not. Breathing started to become excessive again, so once again deep breaths, and join the rest of the group. Once I had my bearings I could see 2 other divers still on the surface and didn't envy them. Tom was struggling and one of the apprentices was helping him.
Amazing! My heart was pounding so hard, sharks were everywhere I looked. Constantly looking out for a monster great White, tiger or the vicious bull shark.. The 40 or so sharks swarming around us at the time were black tom reef sharks which are meant to be "curious" but not as vicious as the others. One 'curious' little w*** bit on to my fin and wrenched me down with the shake of his head. I'd be lying to say I want scared! At one point I looked down to the deeper bait bucket and saw a huge shark, whilst I saw it very faintly I knew this was no reef shark. My instructor stroked his open fingers across his bicep to indicate tiger stripes... Aaahhhhhhhh! The rest of the dive I was on edge, and when it came to bobbing at the surface at the end, waiting for your gear to be pulled onto the boat I wasted no time and heaved myself out of the water asap..
What a morning!
We now had to reach our next destination Port St John's. We hitched a ride in the back of a open backed small lorry full of sand. Tom sat in the cab, whilst I ate the blowing sand at 70mph.. Once we were dropped off we waited 2 hours for our next ride! When we finally arrived to Port St Johns we arrived in style, a huge bread lorry!
Finally we made it to our backpackers, 'jungle monkeys', African band playing in the bar area and we met back up with mike and the crew who had been on the beer all day and ordered too many pizza, so Tom and I ate well for free that night. Lazy evening in hammocks chatting and looking out to sea.