Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Battle with the Sea

There are two things that you know are always going to lead to a good story:

  • "So shit, there I was..."
  • "Hey, hold my beer..."
  • I like bullet points, and "things in threes" - so this is a third bullet point; although completely useless...pretty much made my day
First you must know that the tale told did happen.  The events that you are about to read are 100% based in reality; the identity of the people has not been changed...cause I'm more than happy for all of you to know about the events that nearly ended my life.  

It was a dark and stormy night, a front blowing in heavy from the North.  Damn this Belizean winter. My brother and I, heroically crossing the sea, reaching the dock.  Eric skillfully navigated through the traitorous shallows as we approached the island, our dock, and our safe haven for the night. Now - to tie up.  

Waves were crashing over the back of our tiny vessel; like the constant bat of a cat with a mouse - the ocean knew it could take us at any moment.  Unbeknownst to us it had started a series of events that nearly did just that.  Those waves had taken the back tie line off our stern, so as I grabbed the pole and reached for the bow tie the engine wrapped the line on the prop.  Stopping it dead.  

So shit...there I was.  My upper half perilously strung over the ocean, hands tightly grasping the dock line for the bow.  My lower half, knees and feet, desperately searching to find purchase on a hold. Eric straddling the engine in a mad attempt to free our prop and re-gain propulsion ability.  If I failed I knew our fate - the torrent of waves would crash us in the rock, destroying us along with our craft. The heavy swell buffeted the boat up and down.  

Then, an enormous wave, perhaps a baby tsunami, lifted the boat high in the air.  As we reached the wave's crest I found myself thankful to still be holding the rope - that thankfulness soon turned to dread.  As the boat dropped quickly I knew my fate.  Gravity no longer held me on the boat, that tiny bit of lift stole my friction...into "The Abyss" I went.  Side note - my brother hasn't seen that movie?! What is wrong with the youth today?  Sorry - into "The Abyss" I went.

The ocean had swallowed me whole, if only on a very temporary basis.  It was not long that realized my phone was in my pocket - considering my self lucky to not succumb to electrocution.  My dedication to the safety of the whole had not passed; my hands still grasped the line and now I struggled to grab the boat before it took Eric to a rocky doom.  

With one last effort the fingers on my right hand met their target; hooking into the bow clip.  I pulled the boat over and clipped the line.  I was wet, but we had docked.  We were was far from safe.  There it was - my leg was hit by a creature from the depths.  In a flash I remembered the creature we had seen just before the events that began this story - Bruce, our resident Bull shark.  

My blood was streaming into the water, from the horrific injury on my hand (sustained pulling the boat to the rope), and I knew "he" was out there - this wasn't over.  My brother had tied the stern on the dock; not realizing that prevented me from climbing to safety. He quickly untied and brought the boat out.  Allowing me to shoot up out of the water, and back onto the boat.

I was water logged, missing some skin, fingers a bit crushed, down a phone - but alive, and with a story to tell.  Poseidon let us go this night.  Though I have no doubt, we have not seen the last his antics.      

Truth time? - that basically did happen; but the shark was there a couple hours, not moments before I went in; there aren't enough rocks on the shore to sink a dinghy; the water barely comes up mid thigh in most of the places I was standing; waves were maybe at .5 meteres; winds at maybe 5-10 knots; I lost maybe a tablespoon of blood from my "gruesome" injury...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Updates on my Belizean Life

I realize it's been awhile sine an update - not intentional...just happen to be working far more than playing.  That tends not to make the best updates (well some of this stuff would, but shouldn't really be public information).

"Other Buddy" Status - So there's this local homeless guy, member of the "Red Top Society" (a collection of rum addicted folks), named Marcos Ash.  He's a most excellent member of society, served in the Belizean military under our very own boat captain Charlie.  Unfortunately he found a rum bottle one day and never found his way out.  Despite his station in life he cleans the beach, fishes, washes people golf carts, and keeps an eye out for all of us in the neighborhood.  He knows my parents by name (and Koda!), he also knows my brother by name...Kendall is apparently too tough.  Despite the fact that I was the first to learn his name; oh well.  I used to be "BUDDY!!" when we walked down the street; now Eric is 'Buddy', and I am 'other buddy' or '2nd buddy'.  I'm okay with it - as long as I'm his buddy.

Lion Fish Hunting (Shark Wrestling) - Lion Fish hunting inevitably leads to shark wrestling.  I've only been out hunting once so far, but as soon as these silly tourists stop filling my dive boats - I'm going again!  Killed 5 of the little coral killing fish slaughtering bastards (it's my blog and I'll curse if I want to).  By far the best part of is making friends with nurse sharks.

See the nurse sharks actually recognize the spears and will start to follow when you enter the water.  Once you kill your first Lion Fish - it's game on.  They will usually shoot into the cave and pull the fish off the spear before you can even get it out of the cave.  Once the shark got in a cave too quick (before me) so I literally had to reach down, grab the shark and pull him out...then I went in for the kill.  Sure in retrospect perhaps pulling a shark out of a cave so I could go in front of him...not the brightest thing I'd done that day.  However I'm pretty sure this shark knew we were friends.  He started finding the fish and taking me to them!  He would come hit my spear or actually nudge me, then swim off - finally I followed him (figured Timmy fell in a well or something).  Sure enough the little guy (5 foot shark) was showing me Lion Fish...genius.  All beats were off when the 13 foot Reef shark started circling.  That's when you put the spear away and point at the guy beside you, 'pretty sure he did it Mr. Shark.'

Paddle Boarding (and falling, and falling, and falling) - I'm like totally a professional paddle boarder now.  Maybe not.  It's however amazingly fun.  I've been once, made it all the way to the reef and had a sit, quiet calm of just the ocean shuffling over the reef.  Next time I'm packing a sandwich in a plastic bag, tying off to a buoy, and spending a little more time in natural contemplation.   I did not successfully manage any standing time...but can manage pretty well on my knees (not like that perverts).

Real Life - It Ain't All Fun (but none of it's bad) - It has been a long month...lots of work.  We've hit busy season and we've got charters and divers and and and.  I actually work for a change.  I can at least see a light at the end - we have a good plan, we've learned our teams skill sets and are ready to adjust things properly.  Unfortunately we keep getting run over by trains as we attempt to get to that light.  We're making progress.

Every One Loves My Hat - Really how could one not love this hat. Sometimes I don't wear it because I get tired of saying "thank you" and "yes, I made it."  Perhaps I'll open a shop, sell them from the dock.