Diana Nyad has succeeded at her lifelong dream to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, without the aid of a shark cage – a mighty triumph of woman over nature.
As she pounded through 110 miles of ocean waves and currents, for 52 hours Diana swam the gauntlet of sharks and jellyfish. Though protected by kayakers armed with electric probes for zapping sharks, the danger was real, sharp toothed, and present.
To celebrate the indomitable Diana’s wonderful first, here we take a look at some remarkable feats of survival in shark infested waters – times when you could really do with a bite alarm.
Cuba to Florida
When 64 year old, Diana Nyad plunged into the brine in Cuba, her battle cry was, “courage’.
Some 52 hours later, staggering up the beach in Florida, she distilled her experience down to three messages:
“One is we should never ever give up.
Two is, you are never too old to chase your dreams.
Three is, it looks like a solitary sport but it’s a team”.
With a swollen face, tongue and lips, her words were slurred, but the message clear: go for it.
St Lucia fishing disaster
Going for it was something of a necessity for Dan Suski and his sister Kate. They were sea fishing, eight miles off the coast of St Lucia, when Dan hooked a huge marlin. During the subsequent battle between man and fish, the boat’s stern dipped under the water. The engine and electrics were flooded and five minutes later, the boat sank.
Following advice from the captain and first mate, for the first hour, the group of four stuck together, bobbing in their life jackets, waiting for help to arrive.
When no one came, Dan and Kate decided to swim for it. They battled big waves and evaded sharks through the night, before finally shivering their way ashore 14 hours later. The skipper and mate, were eventually rescued after 23 hours in the sea.
Kate never used to be a morning person, but now she gets up at dawn every day: “Since this ordeal…I’ve never looked forward to the sunrise so much in my life.”
Imagine how you’d feel if you surfaced from a dive, off Borneo to find your support boat gone. That’s what happened to Japanese diving instructor, Hishashi Koze and his two friends. The boatman lost sight of the diver’s bubble trail, and assuming that all was lost, simply returned to shore.
Hishashi soon lost sight of his buddies, and having no idea that they’d been rescued by a fishing boat, was forced to swim for it. Navigating by the compass on his watch and the stars of the night sky, the diver kept his spirits up by telling himself he had to survive.
Despite his desperate fear that he’d be eaten by sharks, the Japanese man managed to maintain his composure during the long night, and eventually covered the 20 miles to shore in 24 hours.
When surfer, Brett Archibald boarded a boat bound for the remote Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, little did he know what lay in store.
Rough weather made the South African and his fellow voyagers sea sick. In the middle of the night, while vomiting over the rail, Archibald blacked out and tumbled into the sea.
Nobody noticed his absence and with no lifejacket, and treading water in shark territory, 50 year old Brett must surely have feared the worst.
The experience was unpleasant to say the least: “I had sharks swimming past me. I got stung by a jellyfish. Seagulls even tried to pick my eyes out and I have got big holes in my nose.” Incredibly, despite coming close to drowning, Brett survived 28 hours in the water before he was found by a yacht and taken to safety.
So what can we sea anglers take from this? Simple. Always wear a lifejacket. Always tell someone your plans and when you’ll be back. If the worst happens, never give up hope. Enough said.