Sharks on the Prowl
Shark attacks are on the rise this year according to various news reports.
The dorsal finsters have been particularly frisky in Australia. Still, the fear factor is nothing like the summer of 1975 when Jaws was released.
With that climate in place, a memorable sailing trip took place in Tampa waters between the Gandy and Howard Frankland bridges.
The high school classmate whose family owned the boat captained the vessel. We all felt safe with him. Sort of like having a designated driver. He was a responsible sort. Meanwhile, the crew joining him made Gilligan look like Lord Nelson. Time distorts memory, so what follows is my best effort of what transpired that fateful night.
It was an angry sea, my friend…
And shortly into the excursion all talk centered around the number of creatures below us dressed in dorsal fins. A lot of “dudes” were being dropped along with hypothetical scenarios about bloody waters and becoming chum. Suddenly a member of the party inexplicably fell into the water.
The terrified MOB did his best Mark Spitz (can’t use Michael Phelps — he wasn’t born yet) trying to catch us before he became a tasty snack. Displaying calm, our skipper turned the boat into the wind to recover our lost crew member.
No harm, no foul.
We all howled at our friend’s expense. The party continued, and the eight-track blared.
"Smoke on the water, fire in the sky…"
Another hour passed and everything proceeded smoothly until our captain decided to scale the mast. Remember, most puffed — and inhaled — in those days.
Intrigued that the one sensible person on board had gone gonzo, the entire crew edged over to one side of the boat to observe.
You guessed it. The 29-foot vessel tipped over. Suddenly, we all found ourselves in the drink. Room service for any passing great whites. My panicked mind filled with stories from the U.S.S. Indianapolis and images of Captain Quint.
Alas, quicker than you can say Peter Benchley, the capsized boat righted itself. All crew members got safely back on board. A lifetime bond was forged between captain and crew for surviving such an ordeal.
To this day, I wonder if we were lucky to escape the shark-infested waters or if the sharks around us simply had more sophisticated palates.
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