Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the biggest fan of water let alone the sea, I’m terrified of sharks and I have horrible travel sickness. So naturally I thought the logical thing to do while we were in Cape Town was to go on a shark dive.
So sunday morning we were up at 5am ready to be collected at 6am for our 2 hour drive to Gansaabi where we would be doing the dive. With my Sea sickness tablets taken we boarded the bus with the 20 other people who would be going on the boat with us. 2 hours and several naps later we arrived at Gansaabi and we’re welcomed with breakfast. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as nervous as I did waiting to get on the boat, I think I barely spoke to Kenny over the course of the morning trying to physc myself up. While we were waiting to get on the boat our trip guide Wierren gave us a talk about the type of sharks we’d see (great whites), how long we’d be out on the boat (3 hours), that it was normal for people to be sick and there was always at least one (I sat there thinking yep that’ll be me hanging over the edge, even Kenny turned to me and laughed) and other general safety tips and a few shark jokes to make everyone feel less like they were about to walk to their death ( I still thought I was going to die). He also told us that the sharks were completely uninterested in us in the cage. He was quick to tell us that no matter what we had seen on social media the shark does not want to go for the cage or try and get in there with you. He explained that sharks can sense magnetic fields and when the cage is in the water the steel gives of a small magnetic field around the cage that the shark can sense and to the shark the cage appears as one solid block of metal. The only time sharks bump the cage or end up biting the cage is normally when they’ve approched very quickly to get the bait and havent been able to turn in time and have hit the cage. (still didn’t make me feel much better)
We boarded the boat and drove about 15 minutes out to where the cage was anchored about 3 miles out at sea. There were a couple of moments in the drive where I thought my stomach might not hold but surprisingly it did and the seasickness tablets appeared to be doing their job. When we anchored we all went on to the roof of the boat where our guide gave us another talk on what would happen in the cage, what we would be wearing and how long we would be in there etc. Whilst down below two of the crew we’re putting bait in the water to lure the sharks (4 big tuna heads and some nice fish guts and blood just to make the stomach feel better). Our guide never managed to finish his talk as we were all distracted by the approaching sharks so we all headed back downstairs to put on our wetsuits.
Wetsuits… What can I say probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to put on in my life totally not my forte, there I am still trying to get it over my foot and Kennys already in and zipped up. Once we were in we waited while the first group got in the water but as they got in the shark disappeared so we waited, and waited and waited a bit more. During all this waiting Kenny started to feel a little bit sick and the more we waited the worse he got. Thankfully before he got too bad the shark eventually returned and we swapped with the first group and got into the cage. I was pretty suprised with how quickly i got in to the water despite it being absolutley freezing. (12degrees) once we were in we had to bob around on the top holding on too the bars to keep us stable until the shark approched and then the crew would tell us to go down. The first few minutes were pretty terrifying just sitting waiting not really knowing what was swimming around underneath you. A short while later we heard “down, down, down” as a shark loomed towards us headed for the bait we ducked under the water but not before we’d seen his mouth open for the bait. It was terrifying but also at the same time felt like an out of body experience, like it wasn’t really happening and we were watching it on a screen, they were just so close. We continued on in the cage for about another 20 minutes with several more encounters with the shark. I was quite thankful to get out in the end the last encounter was just a bit too close for my liking he was right by the cage and i had lost all feeling in my feet (tip: if your going shark diving wear the wetsuit boots they have). We climbed out and made way for the next group to get in as we took our wetsuits of and grabbed dry clothes. However.. Kenny never made it to get his wetsuit off. We had literally been back on the boat 30 seconds before he announced, “i’m going to be sick,” and leaning of the side of the boat (not the side with the cage attached obviously) and he ended up stayed there hanging his head over the side for pretty much the rest of the trip.
Once out of my wetsuit (eventually) we watched as the sharks continued to give us a show with the last group in the cage before we headed back to shore. By the time we got back to the shore Kenny looked like a ghost and I don’t think he’d ever been happier to have two feet on the ground. Once he’d composed himself we headed back to the meeting room for lunch, chicken lasgne, and watched the video from the boat. By the time we had finished it was about 3pm and time to pile back in to the bus and head for cape town. Another 2 hours later and we were back at the hostel ready for a shower and a nap before dinner. We rewarded ourselves with some delicious italian food from a resaturant just down from the hostel for dinner before crashing in to bed early after a long day.