Jay’s encounter with a great white shark

After this story you will understand why Jay could only think of sharks when he jumped into the ocean to save our dinghy, rather than the million other things that I was thinking of, what if he can’t get back on to the boat, will I be able to pull him up, what if he becomes untied and floats away, could I be able to sail this boat alone…

It was early January 2011, 3 years ago, we arrived to an uninhabited island, one on the very south end of the long strip of the Bahamas Islands. The sea bottom close to the island went from 200 ft to 40 ft and in-between lots of coral reefs we anchored in a patch of white sand. Jay jumped in with his mask to make sure the anchor had a good hold since there was reef all around us it was important we did not drag. I was tidding up things onboard, the girls were playing on deck. I heard Jay yell something back to us from the water but being upwind from him I did not ketch what he said, Luna who was closer to the stern of the boat repeated “He said let go of the dinghy”, I replied “No he didn’t”, I watched him and his head was in the water with his back floating on the surface when he began to launch forward, arms open, splashing the water violently as if doing an awkward butterfly stroke. He then slowly began swimming backwards without lifting his face out of the water, he reached the dinghy which was tied up behind us and jumped in, he was as white as the sandy bottom we just anchored in.

He came aboard and told us his story. He was swimming around checking out the reefs when out of the corner of his eye he sees something big move, he turns and about 20 ft away is a great white shark, 4 times his size, it has turned towards him and is slowly coming at him as if sniffling him out like a dog. This is when he yelled to let go of the dinghy which was about 10ft upwind from him, good quick thinking but his wife estaba en otras. So then he quickly thought “I need to convince this thing that I am going to eat him otherwise he’s going to eat me”, so he immediately started to launch towards it, as if he were a wild cave man, growling, kicking and splashing like a wild animal, it worked! The shark turned around and swam away from him, Jay kept his eyes on it as he swam backwards, the shark did loop around about 30 ft from him and started coming slowly towards him again but by then Jay had reached the dinghy and managed to jump to safety.

Lesson learned, always trust your husband, no matter how crazy his request might sound.

Newport to Lunenberg Passage

July 14, 2014 – 12:00 ~ Newport to Lunenberg

Finally we set sail again, after the longest stop we’ve ever made since we started sailing, Jay 9 years ago and myself (Natasha) 5 years ago. We cast off under fair winds from Newport, Rhode Island, headed for Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. Within the hour into our passage all 3 girls were sleeping. Later on that afternoon Caribe throw up for the first time in her sailing career. I ducked and she got me on the shoulder, otherwise she would have got me head on. But that was it, she never got sea sick again on this passage and we had some rough patches where she was jumping up and down as happy as could be. Luna is a natural just like Jay, Sol on the other hand, lays horizontally the entire time, she even eats and plays laying down and does get sea sick when it gets rough. Even though we had purchased a brand new auto pilot (a kind donation from G-Ma) we still hadn’t had time to connect it so Jay was a slave to the tiller, I drove for a couple of hours that first afternoon. At night we had fair winds and the sea got considerably calm as we reached the Gulf stream, that madrugada I relieved the Captain for a few hours again.

Day 2 – Dolphins visited us twice, they were dark gray with a bright white underside, we also saw a portuguese-man-of-war, a jelly fish with an inflated sail like bladder which floats on the surface. The jib came out of it’s track, this was another thing we bought new but hadn’t installed it, the old aluminum track was bent so it was difficult to get the jib to slide up in it. Jay had tried twice y la tercera es la vencida, so he was on his last try when he got it up. We also left without cutting the dinghy in half so we had been towing it with 2 lines, one broke off so Jay had to replace it while underway.

Day 3 – Tides from the Bay of Fundy were affecting the seas where we were, 200 nautical miles away. Currents were strong and seas disorganized. We had to gybe constantly with the incoming and outgoing tides. The wind picked up to 20 knots, so we put down the jib knowing we probably wouldn’t be able to get it back up and just sailed with the main. I toke a turn at the helm at noon with the radio headphones, picking up some Canadian talk shows and classical music. The dinghy had been doing well for the most part while being towed, surfing and gliding behind us. Some unconscious thought made me look behind us and I saw the dinghy was upside down! I screamed for Jay and he jumped into the cockpit in a flash. The next few hours turned into a physical torment as we tacked and gybed back and forth in 8ft seas trying to rescue our dinghy, our live raft, our car! I laid stomach down on the leeward deck as Jay sailed by the dinghy trying to snag the floating line that was attached to it but after more than a handful of tries and being doused with a cold wave we decided to change tactics. We sailed directly upwind from the dinghy and put down the main, as we drifted down to it Jay put on a harness and secured a rope to it. That part was planned out and we had spoken about it but what followed was a total surprise. When we were about 10ft from the dinghy Jay stripped his clothes off and jumped into the cold North Atlantic butt naked and swam to the dinghy. He quickly secured a rope to the dinghy and swam back to Messenger climbed back onboard at the transom pulling himself up with the back stay, a feat probably nearly impossible to do on a regular day. But pumped with adrenaline he climbed up with no problem. Later, in retrospect, he told me all he could think about was of the shark infested waters he had jumped into. But voilá, we had it back and although we were exhausted, cold, bruised and bleeding, we had not given up, we had managed to save our dinghy. The hard part of the rescue was done but we still had some work cut out for us. We pulled the dinghy along side Messenger and flipped it over, it was full of water so then Jay had to jump into it and bail it out and secure new lines to it. Down bellow, where the girls had fallen asleep with the rocking and rolling, the boat was a disaster, everything had fallen about.

Finally that evening the wind and seas had calmed and we began our slow approach towards Lunenberg. That night I drove for a good long stretch letting Jay finally get some needed rest.

Day 4 – Winds at 10 knots and we are finally parallel to land, seas have been calm and wind consistant making the boat flatter and our passage more comfortable. We saw a moon fish, 2 small sharks and a small whale in the distance. We arrived into Lunenberg before noon and too tired to sail onto a dock to check in so we anchored and rested until the next morning.