A Great White Encounter E-mail
Written by Chris Hyde   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:34

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It's Sunday morning out on Simpson Reef and I'm getting hungry. As I reach behind my seat to grab a sandwich from the tankwell of my Revo13, sore arms remind me of the epic fishing from the day before. Today is no different; by 11am I have already hauled up a dozen lings and other bottom dwellers. I straddle my yak, letting my feet dangle off the sides while I eat my sandwich and admire the glassy conditions all around me. I have never felt so relaxed and at home on the water. I then hear a light splash directly behind me. The sound doesn't immediately trigger any alarms because I am used to seeing porpoises and seals that get too curious of my plastic boat. When I finally turn around to investigate, I am met by a gray dorsal fin jutting about two feet out of the water. It takes a second to process, but when it finally registers, I realize I'm in close proximity with a Great White shark. Suddenly I'm not feeling so comfortable.

Picture me still choking down my sandwich at this point. I'm not quite sure what to do, and it feels like time has completely slowed down. I take another bite of my sandwich and decide that I don't want to find out if this shark's lunch schedule is anything like mine. I look around to see if anyone is nearby to warn or call for help in the event this thing wants to take a bite out of me. My buddy, Evan, is on the water with me, but he is out of ear shot and his radio is already dead. I notice a power boat fishing about one hundred yards away from myself, and I choose to calmly yet briskly pedal toward the boat. I turn around to gauge the shark's reaction to my sudden interest in fleeing the scene. I feel like I'm leading the police on a slow speed pursuit. The cold, black eyes are piercing through my soul. The shark is so close that I feel like my racing heart is resonating through the hull of my kayak, and that I'm moments away from being ripped from my boat. Every time I turn around it's always there. A few yards of pedaling have felt like the cruelest miles I've ever endured.

The power boaters noticed my approach and yelled out to me, "There's a shark right behind you! It's as long as your kayak!" I am fully aware of what is behind me, and their estimation of its length comes as no comfort. As I neared their boat, I turned around to see that the shark had disappeared. Surprisingly, I didn't feel any safer with it out of sight. I nervously circled their boat and made small talk with them as my nerves finally started to settle. They were kind enough to offer me a free shuttle back to the launch, but the fishing was just too good to accept a free "ride of shame" back to Sunset Bay. I eventually mustered up the courage to leave the false security that the power boat gave me, and I pedaled back toward Evan to let him know what had happened. We fished for another hour or so before deciding to head back to the launch. The whole time I imagined my body and boat being hurled vertically in the air as the shark came back to finish me off. I found myself constantly glancing over my shoulder looking for it. That made for one of the longest return trips to date. The shark never did show again, and we made a safe return back to shore. As I reflected back on my chance encounter I couldn't help but laugh at what the scene must have looked like to someone watching  it unfold before their eyes. Here is a guy with a sandwich still in his hand pedaling a kayak toward a boat with a thirteen foot Great White following close behind.

 

 

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