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Friday, July 22, 2011

Thinking of Sharks after Indulging in a Snickers Chocolate-Peanut Butter Square...

One would only think that I would be sensible enough to avoid indulging in yet another one of those delectable yet totally decadent Snickers Chocolate-Peanut Butter Squares that recent taste forums convincingly suggest make oneself most appetizing to sharks.

But no, I couldn't help myself and once again found myself scarfing down yet another Snickers Square the other day only to later regret having possibly made myself more appetizing to you know who.

All of which had me thinking back to my cruising days aboard S/V BratCat and sailing throughout the Bahamas as well as reflecting upon a few impressionable shark incidences that are still embedded in my memory bank.

Well one such incident didn't involve me personally but was to occur while sailing from Nassau to Allan's Key in the northern Exumas. The weather couldn't have been more delightful that morning with brilliant blue skies and water to match. The steady winds and flat seas that perfect day also made for a most delightful four-hour sail.

The only prevailing concern while sailing those pristine waters that day was to keep a keen and vigilant eye out for what seemed to be more than just a few cylindrically shaped brown coral heads.

Well those treacherous coral heads seemingly lurking just beneath the surface of the water and randomly interspersed like explosive mines were nevertheless readily visible from a distance in the crystal clear blue waters that day.

It also goes without saying that any one of those lurking coral heads could have made for a bad day of sailing if one were to have had the misfortune of smacking into any one of these while under sail. But like I said, those coral heads were nevertheless readily visible and easily avoided that day.

All of which brings me back to the topic of sharks... while en route to Allan's Key, the staccato chop-chop-chop sound of helicopter blades could suddenly be heard slicing through the air all the while getting progressively louder off of S/V BratCat's stern.

It was then in but an instant that a brightly-colored orange U.S. Coast Guard helicopter could be seen flying low and fast. Its turbine engines were at full throttle as it flew directly above our mast while speeding off into the direction of our destination that by now had appeared as a shadow on the distant horizon.

Then what seemed like but a minute or two after touching down on that distant key, that aircraft was once again airborne. The staccato chop-chop-chop of the blades slicing through the air could once again be heard getting progressively louder only this time that chopper was flying low and fast and heading back to where it had come from.

Well I then turned to my then wife and commented the obvious... "I think something serious might have happened and someone might have had a mishap of sorts" or words to that effect.

Sure enough, after dropping an anchor off of Allan's Key later that afternoon and later going ashore the next morning, we were informed that a mishap had indeed happened the previous day.

It turns out that a female diver out of Marathon, Florida had had the misfortune of losing a hand to a shark. After free-diving and spearing a grouper, she had surfaced with the intent of handing over both her Hawaiian sling and speared grouper to a fellow diver patiently waiting inside their dinghy.

The speared grouper was to have then been placed in a bucket along with other bleeding fish and lobster that had already been speared by fellow divers.

Unfortunately upon extending her sling out of the water to her fellow diver securely aboard their dinghy, the grouper slid down along the shank of her sling coming to rest directly upon her hand.

It was then that a shark, that had been stealthily lurking nearby, swiftly went after the bleeding grouper thus snatching both the grouper and the diver's hand which the speared grouper had come to rest upon.

(Memo to self: Stop indulging in any Snickers Chocolate Peanut-Butter Squares and switch to Butterfingers...)

By the way... it occurs to me that both the U.S. Coast Guard and Police Officers have something in common. One would just as soon not see any of these fine public servants hanging around for fear of being subjected to a fine of sorts whether it be for not complying with a boat safety requirement or for a random traffic ticket.

But if one might happen to be in any sort of distress, whether one be on a boat or on some isolated roadside, then one is only too grateful to have them around to provide any needed assistance.

What can I say other than that I've had four speeding tickets over the years and that I deserved every one of them.

Lastly before concluding... I do apologize for making light of a most unfortunate incident. There but for the grace of "god" go I.

S/V BratCat somewhere near Georgetown, Exumas 1989.

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