Friday, October 7, 2011

NKOTB - Sea Creatures!

NKOTB (New Kids On The Boat) ... A Weekly Series Sharing Our Thoughts and Questions as Beginner Sailors and Future Cruisers.  NKOTB or Experienced Cruiser ... Tell Us Your Thoughts!

When writing last week's post about going "down under", I started thinking about all of those creatures lurking around in the water.  You know ... barracudas, stingrays, eels, jellyfish, sharks ... and on and on.  After all, we'll be living on a boat and anchored out quite a bit which means these creatures will be our neighbors.  We'll be living in their territory so we'd better learn to adjust and get along!  

I'm sure thoughts about all of those sea creatures is common among new cruisers.  I'd also guess that the most feared creature is the shark!  I know, I know ... the shark is misunderstood and gets a bad rap.  I'm still not gonna trust him.  After all, us humans all look alike and evidently we resemble a seal a little too often!

I remember going to see "JAWS" with my family when I was about 8 or 9 years old ... what an intense movie!  I've always loved a good horror flick, and "JAWS" quickly became one of my favorites.  However, the next time I went to the beach I realized that movie was stuck in my mind forever.  I found myself scanning the area while in the water, looking for a fin and hearing that music ... dun dun dun dun dun dun!  (BTW, I don't think that movie would have been near as intense without that music ... brilliant!)  Evidently, I'm not the only one that thinks of that movie whenever going into the water.  I've heard that "JAWS" instilled the fear of sharks in people across the globe!

Shortly after we purchased "Nirvana" and decided we wanted to cruise, I started watching a documentary on the National Geographic channel about some cruisers.  Wouldn't you know that story turned out to be about some sailboat cruisers that had anchored at a beautiful and remote anchorage, only to be attacked by a shark!  Evidently, the cruisers hadn't checked out the area with the locals and just jumped in for a swim.  This particular area was used as a dumping ground for the local slaughter house ... which meant plenty of sharks in the area for feeding!  One of the cruisers almost bled to death, and barely made it to a medical facility in time since they were in an isolated area. 

This story and all of the other horror stories I've heard over the years have not taken away my love for the water and such things as snorkeling and swimming.  However, these stories do remind me of the respect that we must show these underwater creatures.  It was mentioned in the documentary that when cruising one should always check with the locals before swimming in an area ... good point!  I'd also think that avoiding the water whenever having a fresh cut would be a good idea.  Did you know that sharks can smell a drop of blood from miles away?   Oh, and another tip ... don't splash a lot when in the water because that's what seals do and it makes us look like bait!  One last thing I've heard ... don't swim in the early morning or late evening, because that's when the sharks typically feed.

It's weird, because a few years ago we were on vacation in Destin, Florida and I was training for a triathlon.  I went out alone early one morning (before I knew better) for a swim in the Gulf, and after swimming alone for a few minutes I got a really strange feeling.  All of a sudden I felt a strong urge to get back to shore.  I felt unsafe and just had a really bad vibe.  I swam to shore as fast as I could and decided to sunbathe instead.  The very next weekend in that spot on the beach a 13 year old girl was attacked and killed by a shark. When I heard the news on television, I got chills ... creepy!  I do believe we all have a "sixth sense".

Sharks aside, there's also lots of other creatures "down under" that require caution.   Steve Irwin and the stingray come to mind ... such a sad story.  Then there's the gentle giant ... the whale!  I'd say I worry just as much about whales as sharks.  (Did you ever see the movie "Orca")?  Our first venture into cruising will consist of the Gulf Coast and the Bahamas, so whales aren't a concern at first.  But, once we venture further South these giant obstacles will be of some concern.  We really don't want to hit one of these!

What underwater creatures do you fear?  What precautions do you take?  How often have you been surprised by a shark, whale, etc.?  As I mentioned earlier, checking with the locals is a great idea.  However, that also sounds inconvenient.  I would think that the internet must have some information regarding unsafe areas to swim or bathe.  Any suggestions?   Also, I hear that barracudas are attracted to shiny, metal objects ... no jewelry while I'm swimming!

Oh, and in case you haven't heard about the killer giant squid ... check out this short video.  These things are really out there and they're aggressive.  A little tip I've learned about these mean guys ... if they start to "light up" like a laser show you're in trouble!  They're distracting you so they can then surround you for attack ... nice!

While the sea has a lot of intimidating creatures, we can't wait to get out there and enjoy all the good things it has to offer.  Watching a whale breech, a stingray gracefully glide by, or a pod of dolphins swimming along out boat has to be amazing!  

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Note:  Here are the previous posts from this series.  Check them out and feel free to give us your advice.  We've really enjoyed reading your comments!


Leslie Payne said...

Thanks to you and the video, I learned not to dress up like squid bait! (Oh my gosh!!! What was he thinking!?)

Like you, I often hear the music from Jaws in my head. And I didn't even see the movie! :0)

When in the BVI, I was very careful to take off all jewelry including my medic alert bracelet before snorkeling. And though I breathed a little faster, it was really cool to see a large baracuda way beneath us. But much better was the school of angel fish that let me become their leader. They followed me turn for turn for several minutes. It was amazing.

What I do fear is jellyfish. Growing up with them in the Chesapeake made an impression. They can really ruin your day.

Thankfully, all these creatures are obvious and we know what to expect. Sadly, it's not quite the same with people, is it? Have a great weekend!

Drew Frye said...

Last time I was in Hawaii, I was snorkeling with my daughter and saw a 15-foot tiger shark. Fortunately, the dive boat was still a mile from the dive site. We looked over our shoulders a lot. That afternoon, we learned a swimmer had been chewed on a few miles away by a 15-foot tiger. Same one, we figure.

I once jumped off my tender in cloudy water on to a 4-foot stingray. He tore off, knocking my feet out and scaring me to death. No sting.

But I swim all the time. No worries.

hans and laura said...

So make me feel old, I was 15 when I went to see Jaws (it was my very first date)! We've also been told to remove all jewelry while snorkeling in order to avoid barracudas (no problem here, I thoroughly doubt there are very many fish who are impressed by rings and bracelets). As for jellyfish, they may be pretty but I have no desire to swim with them. I hate to admit it but I'm a coward at heart and refuse to leap into anything but crystal clear waters.

Jessica S/V San San said...

When it's your time, it's your time, but you can take preventative measures. Remove jewelry, be aware of where you are before jumping in the water, etc. It's okay to think about these things but don't let them keep you from doing anything!

Once we anchored and I was just about to jump in when I saw a big shark. I am not sure what kind it was but I am sure that I didn't want to swim with him!

It's true they are out there and we have to share our home with them, just like we have to share it with the other "creatures" in this world, above and below!

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