The average kayak weighs 35 pounds. The average Great White Shark weighs between 1,200 and 2,400-pounds. The most common length of recreational kayaks is 10-feet-long. Aaaaaaand the average female Great White Shark measures between 15 and 21-feet long (males are 11 to 13 feet). Do you see what I’m getting at here?
When you’re out paddling around in the deep and dark waters inhabited by Great White Sharks your mind plays tricks on you the entire time. Even people who the mental acuity to block out the terrors of the deep and not think about what’s lurking below will see some kelp move out of place and their minds will play tricks on them. You just never know what’s lurking down there.
David Alexander from Northern California found out firsthand what’s swimming around down in the dark waters off Shelter Cove in Nor-Cal when a Great White Shark estimated at 13-to-15-feet-long popped up and bit his kayak like it was ‘smoking a cigar’. At first, he thought he’d hit a rock but reality immediately set in.
His story was shared on Redheaded Blackbelt and it’s a wild one:
The two kayakers were through for the day and heading in, Alexander said. “We were heading south and…rounding the lighthouse…I heard a thud…It felt like the front of my boat was lifting up …I heard a sound sort of sandpaperish…a grinding sound. For a second I thought I was being lifted up onto a wash rock…I saw grey and then I said, ‘That’s not a rock. That’s a shark!’
What Alexander saw then keeps replaying in his head. He saw the shark chomp down on either side of the tip of his vessel. He told us. “He had the front of my kayak literally in his mouth…It was like he was smoking it like a cigar…It was surreal.”
Simultaneous to seeing the shark, Alexander was being thrown from the kayak. “I hear the thud.. feel the push and I’m rolling to the right,” he said. With his gear and his glasses falling into the water with him, he went under then bobbed up.
“I was probably about 4 feet from the shark,” he told us. “I’m in the water…I don’t know if he is looking at me, but I’m looking at him….When he hit the boat, I fell off on the same side his face…I could see both eyes–one side more than the other…His eyes are so dark…I could see his teeth and his gums. You see those rows of teeth…that’s something else.” He paused…”I wonder how many times that is going to play in my head.” (via Redheaded Blackbelt)
I cannot imagine being at the complete mercy of a Great White Shark weighing over a thousand pounds as I’m sitting there in a little plastic boat weighing less than 50 pounds and wondering just how in the heck I’m going to survive this situation as the shark threw me into the water and flipped my boat. Flipping a kayak back upright is a common skill for river kayakers but it’s not something that open water paddlers often practice or learn and it’s much more difficult to pull off on a long kayak versus a white water kayak.
Thankfully, the shark let go of the boat didn’t come at him.
He said he asked himself, “What do you do when he let’s go?” Alexander said he really thought the shark would let go of the boat and then come after him. “He is facing me, he has to swim towards me,” Alexander said. He mentally prepared himself for the worst. “I thought he was going to let go and then go after me,” he said. I thought…I’ve had a good life. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.”
But, the shark didn’t come towards him. “He kinda loosened his jaw from where his teeth were embedded in the kayak,” Alexander explained. “He turned on a dime. He almost went 180 degrees from the direction of where he was at.Then he headed towards John.” Alexander said he was worried that his kayaking partner would be attacked. Then there was a splash and the shark disappeared beneath the water. (via Redheaded Blackbelt)
The whole story sounds pretty surreal. I’ve only been through that Humboldt area of California once and the natural beauty up there is stunning. I can’t imagine living up there and not spending A LOT of time in the water. And I’m not one of those people who are terrified of sharks, I know they’re always out there and have learned to accept that. In fact, I caught a Black Tip shark just 75-feet from the beach last Friday here in Florida.
Sharks are everywhere, I get that. But I cannot imagine a world where I ever got comfortable fishing in a kayak out there knowing that a massive Great White could broadside my plastic boat at any point and send me flying into the water.