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You know most people always think its sharks.
Because I’m spearfishing all the time, I hear it again and again. “Ohhh, I could never do that, I’m afraid a shark will get me.”
Of course, like most spearo’s I’ve had my share of near misses after 30+ years in the water, but the scariest moment I’ve had was due to the weather. And a cavalier attitude.
I’d been abroad with work for almost a month, and when I came home I was craving a dive. But the conditions were dodgy at best. Ignoring the feeling in my gut saying “this is a bad idea” I kicked out through the choppy waves and onto one of the reefs I’ve dived on throughout my whole life.
It was grey and stormy, and with only a few meters of visibility, I managed to grab a couple of lobsters before deciding to call it a day.
But instead of swimming the long-way-around the reef to the beach, I picked the most direct line home, swimming out and around the point.
The only trouble was the breakers crashing over the rocks. At this point, they were about 6 to 8 feet, sending up a cascade of spray with every “boom” that hits the rocks.
Picking a lull between the sets, I had about a 30 meter swim to clear the danger zone and get into the deeper water on the other side.
But halfway through my towline snagged.
It was picked up in a wave, and somehow the net bag along with my lobsters managed to wedge itself into a crack in the reef.
With a sigh, I did a quick check to see if the coast was clear, and swam back to free it up. Somehow, I failed to recognize the swell that was coming in.
As soon as the bag was free, the first wave hit.
I rolled like a rag doll around the rocks in the shallow water. Losing my grip on my speargun, along with my mask and a fin that was swept off in the wave.
Then the second wave it.
It was all I could do to simply grab something and hold on.
With my fingers cramping as I gripped the rocks beneath me, it took all I had to hold it together through the next two waves.
Waiting for the lull that would follow.
Half blind and choking from the seawater, I was surprised once it was all over. It took a few seconds to compose myself, and I was lucky to spot my mask in the water below me.
I pulled my float in, along with my speargun (it attaches to the other end of my floatline), and after a quick look decided my lost fin wasn’t worth another ordeal of waves.
Limping to shore, I let out a massive sigh of relief once the sand was under my feet and the danger had passed.
The ocean took my flipper (I never did manage to find it).
I was left with a gnarly gash that required 10 stitches on my left palm (there’s a scar to this day), a tear in the leg of my wetsuit that was a bugger to fix, and the realization that the ocean is a dangerous place.
A few months later I lost a close friend in a similar accident. He took his boat out solo on another dodgy day, and he never came home.
The ocean’s a scary place. You need to be careful every single time you’re heading into the water, and never dive alone.