As spearos, we all have an ingrained fear of Mr Johnny, but for some that fear is all consuming. I have a very good friend whose fear of sharks goes beyond the norm. To protect his reputation, I’ll just call him ‘Shark Guy’…
The following account is a collection of tales concerning Shark Guy’s death defying encounters with those predators of the deep, embellished a little for humorous effect but 100% based on reality.
My first ‘Shark Guy’ experience was in Mozambique. Shark Guy and I were in Ponte Malangane diving off our fishing skis. We launched at about 5am, taking a long paddle out to Kev’s Ledge where the water was crystal clean and the Couta were about. I was on the spot quite a bit before Shark Guy and I had my first fish in the ski before he was finished kitting up. A small Zambezi had come in with the activity from my fish, but it was very chilled and had not shown any aggression other that a bit of curiosity. As I surfaced with a second fish on my spear, Shark Guy finally entered the water. When he swam up to me to have a look at my fish, I told him that the Couta were on. And to keep an eye on the Zambezi that was still hanging around.
Shark Guy was in such a state he could hardly talk. Nick could only shake his head. I was too busy killing the fish and cleaning up line to notice his reaction. 5 minutes later, with the fish in my ski and my gun ready for my next dive, I looked
- Shark Guy had vanished. I assumed that he would
be on a fish, and searched all around me. Nothing.
I climbed onto my ski to get some height. It was
then that I spotted him paddling back to the beach. I
chased after him, thinking that something must have
gone really wrong. When I caught up and asked what
had happened, he promptly told me that he had seen
the Zambezi, and was “out of there”.
I spent the rest of the trip diving by myself.
You would think that after this I would have given up on
him as a dive partner. However, a little while later, we
decided that a trip to the Kei was in order and invited a
friend from the Cape, Nick, to join us.
We dived the whole week with great success and had
shot Steenbras, Garrick, Brusher and Daga. On the last
day, Nick and Shark Guy wanted one more hop-in to try
for one more trophy fish. I had hurt my ankle the previous
day, so I sat on the cliff top watching them.
They had not gone much past the back line when I saw
Nick swimming to his buoy with a fish: a nice Brusher.
Shark Guy was already ahead of him in the deeper water.
Nick had just started to swim toward Shark Guy when the
sea erupted around Nick’s dive buoy. A Bronze Whaler
had taken the Brusher off the buoy, and in the process
had got the stringer stuck in its mouth. The shark shot
straight out to sea and directly past Shark Guy.
Needless to say, this sent Shark Guy into absolute panic
mode. Nick was trying to get him to come and help hold
the line so that the stringer would break loose. Shark Guy
was just screaming.
In Nick’s words: “I looked up at Shark Guy and he was
halfway between me and my dive buoy. I looked down
to get a better grip on the gun. When I looked up again
he was gone… I did a 360o check and saw that he was
already past me, almost back on the beach. I have never
seen anyone swim that fast.”
When I met Nick and Shark Guy on the beach, Shark Guy
was in such a state he could hardly talk. Nick could only
shake his head.
It does not end there. One day, despite my previous
experiences with Shark Guy, I decided to go and dive
the deep line with him at Westbrook. The visibility near
the surface was average, but excellent at the bottom. We
had found a bit of structure that had lots of bait around
it and was producing nice sized Bronze Bream and a few
Yellowtail Kingfish. I had just settled into a crack and was
waiting for the Bronzes to start moving in, when a small
Dusky Shark cruised over the top of me and disappeared
into the distance. Just after that I saw Shark Guy come
down and settle into a crack next to me. I thanked God
that he had not seen the shark. If he had, he would
already have been halfway back to the beach.
Murphy must have heard me thinking, because as soon
as Shark Guy had settled on the reef, the same Dusky
came swimming back to check out the new visitor. I was
already busting for air and just about to surface when
Shark Guy spotted the shark. The water exploded with
bubbles around him and he rocketed to the surface. I
was in hysterics at this point and could hardly control my
convulsions. I had stayed down for way too long so that I
could witness the show, and the fact that I was struggling
not to laugh as I surfaced did not help. Up on top, Shark
Guy swam up to me in a fl at panic telling me about the
“giant Zambezi” that had swum straight at him. In reality,
I don’t know who was more afraid: Shark Guy, or the
Dusky. It disappeared so fast after seeing Shark Guy I
think the poor thing must have s#@t itself.
All of these stories have made Shark Guy the butt of
many jokes, but when there are no sharks involved,
he can actually be quite brave. For example, the time
when a group of us were diving G-Spot in Mozambique
and having endless trouble with Potato Bass. On one
particular dive, a rather aggressive Potato had just
grabbed my Couta and Shark Guy – in a sudden display
of courage – decided to go down and tell it “who was
I don’t know who was
more afraid: Shark
Guy, or the Dusky. It
disappeared so fast
after seeing Shark Guy
I think the poor thing
must have s#@t itself.
I watched from the surface as Shark Guy swam straight
at the Potato, while at the same time a Blacktip Shark
came charging in from the right to claim his share of
the spoils. The meeting in the middle was something of
a standoff as the Potato proceeded to get the better of
both spearo and shark. When Shark Guy shot back to
the surface, I asked (with tears of laughter in my eyes):
“What happened?” He ignored me, and called the boat
to collect him. For the rest of the dive he sat on the boat
and refused to talk to anyone.
I will say that over the years, Shark Guy has become a
bit better, although he is still always last in the water
and refuses to dive if we are chumming. His stories have
supplied us with endless entertainment, and I’m sure a
number of USM readers will have heard them at a braai
or over a bottle of rum. The death defying adventures of
Shark Guy have been retold so often, they’re practically
a spearfishing urban legend. (But 100% true, I promise!)