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May 24, 2014

God knew I had been working on my fear of sharks this trip. I had pushed myself to do things in the water that I’d never done before, like free-diving (sharks are attracted to the sound of thrashing water, and boy do I thrash when I try to free-dive), and letting Gary tow me from the dinghy like a big lure on his fishing rod (the larger the lure, the larger the fish). I’d silently told myself, “If I do see a shark, I’ll just calmly swim the other way. He’s not interested in us. He is just curious and will go away.”, trying to emulate a self-fulfilled prophecy.

Today, was the BIG day for my prophecy to come to fruition. We had motored up to the north end of Man-O-War and anchored in a designated anchorage. The day was miserably hot and a lot of people were enjoying swimming and playing in the sandy bottomed water near the beach.

Gary and I wanted to cool off in the water as well, but first we took the dinghy into the small village to go to the sailmaker’s store, Albury’s Sail Shop. We both needed new shower bags for our toiletries and we purchased nice ones from the local ladies that make all kinds of bags right in the sailmaker’s shop. Next we went to the freshly stocked grocery store (Saturday is the best day to shop at this store because their supplies come in on Thursday and Friday), and were please to find fresh fruits, vegetables, locally caught grouper and mahi mahi, and small cans of pigeon peas (just the right size for two people). Still curious about this non-U.S. commodity, Gary asked the storekeeper where pigeon peas were grown. She said they were grown on New Providence Island and canned in Nassau.

Albury's Sail Shop, Waterfront

Albury’s Sail Shop,

Albury's Sail Shop, Street entrance

Albury’s Sail Shop,
Street entrance

Grocery store at Man-O-War Cay

Grocery store at
Man-O-War Cay

After our marvelous groceries (such a luxury to have purchased nice fresh fruits) were put away, we snorkeled in the anchorage. We didn’t particularly want to go to the swimming area at the beach because there was still a crowd there. So we snorkeled the grassy area around and near our boat. I tried to free-dive down to take pictures of starfish, and to pick up sea biscuits, but I didn’t have the weight belt on so all I accomplished was a lot of thrashing, and amusement for Gary.

Gary free-diving for sea biscuits

Gary free-diving for sea biscuits

Got it!

Got it!

Gary easily dove to the bottom to do what I couldn’t. After a while I wasn’t content watching him have all the fun of free-diving, so I swam back to the boat and put on the weight belt. I swam to where Gary was and right as I got to him I saw IT! Gary was looking down at the bottom and didn’t realize there was a shark, bigger than he, a short distance past him. I didn’t want to panic everyone in the area, by yelling, “Shark!”. It obviously had already swum right by both of us and was headed out of the anchorage. So…I yelled out, “Gary!” When he looked up and saw me, I waved toward the boat, turned and flipped my big long legs as fast as they would go, back to the boat. Gary had no idea what was going on but he was smart enough to follow me. When we were both safely back near White Swan, and I had looked all around us through my snorkel mask to make sure we had not been followed, I told Gary what I saw. Of course, I could not honestly say how big the shark was, but I know it was bigger than Gary because they were close enough to each other that I could easily see the difference of size between the two. I was so thankful the shark, obviously, was not interested in us. Had he been, we would have been no match for the big guy. Later, Gary made the comment, “You didn’t have to swim that fast. You just had to swim faster than me.”

So…did I panic or remain calm as I had practiced in my mind, anticipating such an encounter? I would report the latter. However, Gary said my fins thrashing in the water as I hurriedly swam back to the boat, indicated an altogether different answer.

Pirates too!?!?

Pirates too!?!?

Gary’s recollection of the shark encounter:

Gary dove down to get a close-up photo of this starfish.

Gary dove down to get a close-up photo of this starfish.

“After returning to White Swan we both got in the water to snorkel. We saw starfish and lots of sea-biscuits. Then Jean pointed to the boat and just took off. I figured she saw something really cool and was chasing it, but I couldn’t figure out why she was going so fast. I looked for something ahead of us but didn’t see anything. It never occurred to me she could have been trying to get away from something. When we reached the swim ladder Jean said, ‘Did you see the big shark? He was large! Bigger than you are.’ We both stayed near the boat and looked all around but no shark sighting. Jean said it looked exactly like the bull shark in our fish guide, and I missed it!!!”

After fighting off pirates and sharks all day, we went into Man-O-War to the  Dock and Dine Restaurant for a relaxing dinner.

After fighting off pirates and sharks all day,
we went into
Man-O-War to the
Dock and Dine Restaurant
for a relaxing dinner.


From Gary’s captain’s log:
As we motored north, we spotted another Gemini catamaran with a storm tri-sail, also headed north. Jean maneuvered White Swan near the other Gemini so I could talk to the two sailors. The captain was from Halifax, Nova Scotia. His boat was a 2009 Gemini, and they came down mostly offshore and partially on the ICW. They planned to sail back via Bermuda. That’s quite a trip. After a brief visit with the two men, we continued on to North Man-O-War Cay, arriving at 2:15 PM. It’s hot, and Jean goes down to her birthday suit.

Two sailors from Nova Scotia,aboard 2009 Gemini

Two sailors from Nova Scotia,aboard 2009 Gemini

One Comment

  1. Samantha Clifton says:

    Oh my goodness! Laughing hysterically while reading this! The way Uncle Gary describes what happened is the best! Thank God that the shark wasn’t hungry and you both are fine. The children will love to hear your story from this adventure.

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