Safe Water

A cold night here in these low-lying mountains of Santa Cruz. The thermometer is reading 37 degrees. I cannot recall a colder night yet this year. Summer is over. News people say that Mount Hamilton may have gotten a dusting of snow. I am ready for my winter trip to Hawaii. The banana palm in the backyard is beginning to look quite sad and out of place. When ever one dies and I replace with a new, I get the sense that one day it will go out on a cold night and not come back.

I also found out last night while watching television news on our local Salinas station that a great white shark was spotted by fishermen last weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, in the exact location where my brother in law and I had been paddling rented kayaks. A link to the news story is here:

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The fishermen first saw the great white on Saturday quite close to where the pro-surfing contest was being conducted. The waves were flat that day, however, and that contest had been postponed. So we felt comfortable paddling around in the surf zone where there would normally be big waves. We paddled around seal rock, where all the sea lions hang out, and apparently somewhere close by this notable rock, was where the fishermen spotted the great white. We were there at approximately the same time, but perhaps 100 yards closer to shore, as the small fishing boats prefer to remain outside of the heavy kelp beds that dot the coast.

These same brave fishermen came back on Sunday with their tiny boat so that they could take close-up photographs of the white. The local TV station displayed their iPhone video of the white lurking near where the surf contest was being conducted. I have never seen a great white shark, even though I have surfed and windsurfed in these waters where they are frequently sighted. Unless you have some perspective above the water, rather than lying on the surface of it, it is quite difficult to see what lies below. It is possible that I have been close to great white sharks in the past, but did not know it. Saturday, I got real close and it was documented, although I did not know it for several days. The thought makes me… well… at first the thought made me not ever want to go back in the ocean, but that would be painful too, so maybe I will just resolve to not go back out around Seal Rock, where there is abundant natural food place for the whites.

My daughter living in Hawaii goes surfing with a girl who lost an arm to a white. While I was visiting in May, I saw this girl swimming down a remote part of the island coastline in waters that I know must have sharks. Some of us are just daredevils. Some of us have this illogical reasoning that says if I have been hit once by lightning, it means that I can never get hit by lightning again, and therefore, I can safely walk outdoors during an electrical storm. My mind does not work that way. One sunny day on one tiny boat within chomping distance of the landlord of the sea will keep me pretty humble and cause me to hug safer waters.

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