Arrival at the pier at 06h40, on a cool but not uncomfortable morning. The glow of promised sunrise peaking over the mountain tops, and a group of happy, fun and friendly guests joining you on The Blue Pointer. Everyone on time, disclaimers signed, briefing given and the trip is underway. Anticipation of the adventure ahead, grows as the island looms closer in the slow rising of the most dramatic sunrise, with reds, oranges and yellows streaking the purple sky. Bioluminescence clearly visible leaving a trail in the wake of the engines, as Simons Town moves further and further away, until it is not visible from where you are.
The boat anchors, the crew engage all the groups in happy, excited conversation as the wetsuits come out and everybody starts to change, with ease into the prepared wetsuits. A call from the skipper, to: “watch out to the left” and there it is, the sudden breaking of the waters’ surface, as a 4-meter Great White Shark explodes into the air, knocking a seal, which falls to the right and the shark crashes to the left shattering the mornings’ silence with the sound of displaced water; spray from its landing washes over you and you stand in stunned silence as others cheer and laugh and “ooh and aah!” Then another call from the crew; “keep an eye on the right” and there it is again, this time the seal didn’t manage to get away.
As the suns starts to rise above the mountains, the crew and skipper explain that the breaching behaviour will now stop, and it’s time to start preparing for the cage. Within no time at all, the bait (a tuna head tied to a piece of rope, used to “lure” the great white sharks to the boat) is out and the sharks start coming by to investigate the sounds, bait and action all being engineered by the experienced crew. Quickly the first group of 4 take their places in the cage, given regulators and start the second part of their amazing adventure. You can hear squealing and excited shouting coming from under the water, as the guests see these incredible creatures up close and personal. All too quickly, it’s your turn, and you take your place in the spacious cage, while a 4.5-meter great white leisurely, with such grace, swims by the cage, and you are now face to face with the apex predator of the oceans. There is no fear, or anxiety, only an appreciation of their beauty, and magnificence. The grace with which they move past the boat and cage, is unprecedented, and quite hypnotizing. Having never used scuba before you don’t even realize that you are underwater and breathing, the cold water, that initially plagued your thoughts, forgotten! This is just incredible. Not one, or two, but at least 5 or 6 different great white sharks have made an inquisitive pass by the cage, and you are sure that one of them actually looked you right in the eye and made a connection! Then your 20 minutes of sheer adrenaline and excitement is over, it’s the other guests turn. There is so much activity, that the skipper suggests that everybody looking to get back in, once everyone had been in to the cage, would get the opportunity, and so it happens that you are able to spend another 20 minutes in the cage and again experience the surreal connection with the big 3.8-meter male shark.
You get back into the boat, the sun is shining down, with just the right amount of intensity to take away the chill that is expected when removing the wetsuit, and slowly warms you.
It is now time to start the 35-minute boat ride back to the Simons Town pier, and so you settle in on the viewing deck and think on your amazing experience. The skipper takes the Blue Pointer around the island, and you are able to see 65 000 plus Cape Fur Seals in their natural habitat, beautiful, noisy and very clever. You see penguins too and wonder how they made their way to the island that seems so far from land. The throttle goes down and the boat picks up speed, and that’s when you see them. What looks like a thousand tiny waves, glistening ripples and movement just below the surface. Out from amongst these large ripples jumps not one or two, but more like 5 or 6 different common dolphins, weaving over each other, catching the wake of the engines and playing hopscotch and leap frog with each other. You can hear their call, a sharp distinct whistle and the undeniable joy with which they join in the trip back to the pier. With 10 minutes left to docking, the 800 to 1000 strong pod of common dolphins squeak their farewells and invitations to return again.
The Blue Pointer pulls alongside the pier and the group of happy, spent guests disembark and are brought to the payment station, where you are met by a smiling face to take payment for your ideal shark trip adventure.
In an ideal world, this would be the experience every day; perfect weather, perfect sea and weather conditions, perfect great white shark activity, perfect breaching behaviour and perfect cage time and then to seal the deal, dolphins to take you home. No one would be sea-sick and everyone would be happy and everyone would have seen the breaches and predations and everyone would have seen 5 or 6 different Great White Sharks from the cage and viewing deck. In an ideal world. We have had trips just like the one mentioned above, add Orcas to the mix and then you have another of these amazing trips, but not all the trips are the same. Nature is never the same, weather and sea conditions are not always ideal, though not dangerous, and shark activity is never a guarantee. Dolphins are not promised, and rather enjoyed when there and the whales are an exciting and mystifying sight to behold, but none of this is a guarantee. So please, when joining us on one of our Shark Trips, please remember that the crew and staff do not have control over the elements or sharks, but will always be honest and open with you when telling you about our recent experiences, as well as doing everything they can and are legally able to do, to make this an experience you will never forget!
Please be kind to our oceans, be kind to our animals, marine and land and be kind to our staff and crew, we do the best we can for you!
Till we meet again, Keep that toothy grin.
By Nadine Bentley