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Nathalie’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 01 Dec 2005

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

MapToday it was time to face the scary great white sharks. Rachael, Ross & myself were picked up at Aardvark at 5.15am, which was way to early!! However, what won’t you do to face your fear – which was what I was about to do. We had a 21/2 hours drive ahead of us all the way to Gansbaai. When we arrived in Gansbaai we had a short briefing & some breakfast. Afterwards, we had a 10 minutes drive to the harbour, where “Tom Cat” – the boat – was waiting to set sea… The boat ride took about 20 minutes. When we stopped our guide said it could take all from 5 minutes to 2 hours until we’d see the first shark, so all we could do now was to be patient. They put out the bait (fish heads) & we waited. Not even 5 minutes passed when we heard the skipper call out: “Shark!”. We all looked in the direction of the bait and there it was. A big, dark shadow was slowly approaching the boat & all of a sudden it grabbed a hold of the bait showing its teeth & eyes very clearly. I can’t ever explain the feeling of fear I felt at that point. I couldn’t believe I was so close to a great white shark!!! Quickly they started putting the cage in the water, securing that it was fastened to the boat. Then they called us asking for the first 5 people, who wanted do go in the cage. At that point I was hiding in the corner afraid they might ask me… Ross & Rach went in with the first group. We were told that each group would have 15 minutes in the water until the next group would go in – we had to give everyone a fair chance to see the sharks in case they wouldn’t be hanging around… However, they did – all day!! When everyone had had a go in the cage I started feeling I had to do it – otherwise I new I’d regret it forever. Like the bungee-man said: “Fear lasts a second, regret lasts a lifetime”. So, I put on my wetsuit – with great difficulty because it was still wet! - & my diving shoes – which were about 5 sizes too big – and walked slowly towards the cage. I sat on the top of the cage, while I put on my mask. When I stepped on a pole on the cage I accidentally slipped onto a man’s head, forcing him to go under water. Before I even got in the cage the man yelled that a shark was approaching & that we should dive. However, I was still sat on the cage – it all went very quickly – and so, when the shark grabbed the bait it looked at me, dived & splashed water on me – that was one close encounter!!! When I was finally in the cage the man once again told us to dive. I didn’t see a thing & by that point I was trying to control my breathing. Third time lucky, I dived & actually saw the shark – it’s was terrifying! So, I told the man I was done. A whole of 3 minutes I was in that cage – I’m sooo glad I did it, but I know I’ll never do it again! At about 11.30 we started riding back to the harbour. The ride back was horrible as nearly everyone on board felt sea sick (I know for sure my dad wouldn’t have liked that boat ride (“,) ).
When we were finally back on land we relaxed for a bit & catched our breath. After about 10 minutes we took off to shark alley, where we had lunch & saw the video of our trip… The ride back to Cape Town was really nice. We all needed sleep on top of today’s excitement & apart from the man, who drove the car – of course – got some.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day – the day I faced the monster of the deep… (PS. Ross’ braids only lasted until today…)