S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Me, Darryl Hannah, 007, and a Shark

Friday, May 4
Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
N 24 degrees, 10.702 minutes
W 076 degrees, 26.733 minutes

By the time we left Georgetown on Tuesday, the four-mile long harbor was down to fewer than a hundred cruising boats, and I was beginning to actually enjoy it! We loved what little we saw of the Bahamian regatta, and I only wish now that we had arrived in Georgetown a few days earlier, to get the provisioning out of the way and leave us more time to watch the boats race.

But we got it all done, at least, and attended a few final potlucks on Hamburger Beach with Crossroads, who will stay another week in Georgetown with their guests and then will head to the west coast of Florida via Key West. Crossroads is also heading home, though their home state is landlocked, so the boat will stop in St. Petersburg and will go up for sale in June. We will miss Michele and Glenn, but we are already looking forward to their first visit in November, where we will plan, in earnest, a CHARTERED cruise of the Mediterranean.

Indra is still with us as we sail up the Exumas chain. We have stopped in Staniel Cay for a few days, and we are enjoying the area much more this time around, as the water is significantly warmer, and we are anchored right next to the town and Thunderball Cave, rather than two damp miles away by dinghy, off a beach that's overrun by feral pigs. We will probably stay here through May 5 in order to attend the Staniel Cay Yacht Club's Cinco de Mayo celebration. Jamie has confessed that Cinco de Mayo is her FAVORITE holiday and Mexican food her favorite cuisine. How could we possibly not stay?!

We wrote about Thunderball Cave when we snorkeled there last year. The cave, which is indeed featured in the film of the same name, as well as in "Splash," is inside a small rock island. You can snorkel inside and watch the light play on the water through various holes in the rock above and below. The effect is beautiful, and the fish and coral are plentiful inside the cave. The only catch is that the current whips through the area at quite a clip, so it's best to go at low, slack tide, when the openings to the cave are easy to find and you do not have to worry about being swept through. That means that during the ideal time, the place is PACKED with idiots in swim fins and snorkels, ruining the mood.

Since we are anchored only a hundred yards from the cave itself, I decided to head over there this morning at high, slack tide. I had the place to myself, and because the tide here is only a couple of feet, I was able to dive down and swim through the main entrance to the cave with no problems. Inside it was even more eerie, with blue light shining through the water at the entrances, and sunlight streaming down through the holes in the ceiling. I took my time exploring each corner of the cave, counting the fish I was seeing and following all the entrances and exits.

I had swum into a darker corner of the cave, to a small hole I had not noticed before, when a dark shape materialized on the floor just a few feet away. There, hanging out on the bottom with its back to me, was a nurse shark, 3 or 4 feet long.

Now, nurse sharks, of all the sharks, are some of the most docile creatures. They have small mouths and big, swishy tails, and they really don't have any interest in humans at all. We see them a lot from the boat or out in the open in coral. This shark was clearly just waiting for me to go away.

One part of my brain calmly registered these facts, and I spent a good one hundredth of a second observing the shark as I would any other fish before the other part screamed, "RUN! And don't bleed! They love blood! Oh, where is the exit? Which exit? Oh my God, I have my back to a shark! What if he grabs a fin? I'll kick him. Can he smell fear? Am I sweating in the water? Does my finning make me sound like a fish in distress? Are my endorphins kicking in? Must be, because I am outside the cave BUT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ISLAND." And so on.

As far as I can tell, the shark never budged. We'll see if he's still there when we go back this afternoon at low, slack tide.


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