First, let me get this off my chest: I’m not a big Shark Week guy. I know, I know—Sharks and Twisters! Million-year-old leviathans of the deep! The most decorated Olympic Athlete of all time racing Great Whites! (For the record, that last one is actually happening.) But hear me out. I don’t get giddy when head-sized bite marks appear on the subway, nor do I get excited when commercials start to appear featuring forgettable, one-name singer-songwriters from the 90’s getting gobbled off a questionable-at-best stage. If you see one seal being tossed to kingdom come you’ve seen them all, right?
I bring this up because I was reminded of the annual seven-day invasion of cartilaginous fish on a recent trip to Cape Cod, where I was staying at a friend’s family summer house for the weekend. Before I left, Anglers Journal editor-in-chief Bill Sisson gave me some encouraging words to chew on.
“They’re expecting as many as 150 great whites out there this summer,” said Bill in a cheerful tone that one would normally reserve for an extended forecast of sunny weather. My eyes narrowed then swelled to the size of dinner plates. If he didn’t know I was afraid of sharks before, he certainly did now.
(And for the record, I’m not exactly afraid of sharks, per se. I just would rather not go into their environment, their home, where they have been hunting for millennia, and pretend that I’m not constantly thinking of them lying in wait somewhere in the deep. That’s not a phobia, right? Right...?)
Once we all descended on Cape Cod, the family hosting us was nice enough to take us out on their 25-foot Sea Ray. The destination: Sandy Neck Barrier Beach. If you’ve never been, here’s the rub: At low tide, vast sandbars appear that stretch for miles—most, if not all of which, only reachable by boat. So when the inevitable happens—the tide rushing back to reclaim these transitory pristine beaches—you need to head back to shore.
And let me tell you something: it happens fast. You’ll be enjoying a nice beach-going experience, playing soccer, grilling, having a couple strong drinks maybe, when you turn around—and suddenly those miles of beaches unfurling behind you have disappeared like Atlantis beneath the fast-moving currents.
Did I have the courage to volunteer myself to be part of the second group picked up by the boat? Or was I conspiratorially volunteered due to whisperings that I might be, ahem, a tad bit reluctant to stay on a fast-dwindling sand bar that would soon be at the mercy of the tides and whatever creatures roamed these waters? (I’d like to think it was a little of both.)
“Here Simon, you can have one of these pool floats while you wait,” said Debby, whose house we were staying at. She laughed. It was a lime green float, in the shape of a margarita glass. A fantastic pool float, but certainly nothing that would instill confidence for a provisional sea voyage.
The waters were knee high when Debby’s husband Allan aboard the boat finally came back to pick us up. We had to swim a little. But the Jaws theme never once played in my head. I was too busy wondering if the number of people that stayed meant we were going to need a bigger boat. Or worse—if a third trip would be necessary! We all clambered in, no dorsal fins were spotted and a great boating weekend, like the sandbar, disappeared too quick.