Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fog and Jelly Fish

So this was it.  Yesterday was the big day.  The biggest bucket list challenge on my list and I was going to complete it.  Excited doesn't even begin to describe the feeling I had.  Not to mention, every person who has crossed my path over the past year has been greeted with, 'Hi my name is Casey, I'm going to swim with a great white in (insert number of days.)'

We landed in the San Francisco airport on Monday morning and took a very expensive cab ride out to Berkeley.  Apparently we were the only ones who didn't get the 'rent a car' memo.  Oh well, poor travel planning.  We got to our hotel and it was too early to check in, so we left our bags and headed over to the dive shop to grab my gear.  The transaction was quick and smooth so we headed to grab some lunch to give the hotel enough time to get our room ready.  By the time we got back, all we wanted to do was eat a little dinner and watch Monday night football before going to bed early.  I keep forgetting how different the time is over here vs. East coast because Monday night football started at 5:30 here.  When you are like a kid on Christmas eve, this is a good thing since I wanted to go to bed super early.  Our boat was leaving at 6:00 a.m. with or without us.

That night was the worst sleep I've ever had.  I woke up every hour and looked at the clock to see if it was time yet.  Finally, I rolled over, looked at the clock and saw 5:00 a.m.  It was time!  I already showered the night before and laid out my clothes so it took a whole 10 minutes to get ready.  We grabbed our gear and headed downstairs to catch a ride to the docks.

We were greeted by our captain for the day James.  We headed over to the 'Superfish' and made our way on board.  The first thing I saw was the cage and the seal decoys.  It was really happening.

James did a quick safety overview with us and told us about where we were heading.  Our dive would take place at Farallon Island.  It is a natural sanctuary full of rare birds, elephant seals, whales, but most importantly, Great Whites.  According to their shark tracker, there have been about 13 great whites hanging around the island over the past few weeks.  Because of dense fog, they have not had any luck seeing sharks yet, so today had to be the day!

We took a 2.5 hour hike out to the Island.  The fog was thick and it was freezing cold.  Unfortunately for about half of the passengers on the boat, the rough waves were a little too much for them and they spent the 2.5 hours chumming the waters for us.  To give you an idea of the view - here are the BEST photos we took on our way out.

Going under the golden gate bridge

Our view of Farallon Island

We got to the island and anchored the boat.  The cage was lowered and in the distance, I could see a seal swimming.  I am still encouraged that we are going to see some action today.  The first group of divers suited up to get in the cage.  Go ahead and judge but I didn't want to be the first one in the water.  I couldn't feel my fingers or toes on the boat so I wasn't very excited to get into frigid water unless I knew there was going to be some things worth looking at down there.  I would be part of group two after the first set of people came out and told us about all the amazing sea life they saw.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the tale they told.  There was no sea life, except for a couple of jelly fish.  None of them were able to see a foot past the cage bars.  They ended up using their video cameras to just take footage of themselves underwater.

So that is how the rest of the day went.  A couple of people kept going in the cage and had the same story.  Jellyfish and sediment.  The fog didn't lift until we were getting ready to leave and the only seal we saw all day was the one when we first arrived.  I guess the great whites weren't hungry today and were hanging out towards the bottom.  Maybe they were on the other side of the island, but the water was too rough that we wouldn't have been able to lower the cage.  All and all, it was a day of fog and jellyfish... and trying not to get sick.  But, on the bright side, the crew was very friendly, food was good (for what I could manage eating,) and we did get to see some sea life.  As we were leaving we saw some Grey Whales which were cool.  People pay good money to go whale watching right?

The 'Jellyfish' cage
The decoy that didn't fool any sharks  this trip

Where I hung out most of the day 'looking' for any sign of sharks

The best shot of the Island we got all day called 'the devil's teeth'

It doesn't look like I will be crossing this off my 30 before 30 list, but it wasn't without effort!  It looks like I will just need to put this at the top of my 40 before 40 list that will come next and I will save up my pennies to go to Guadalupe Island.  After talking to many shark enthusiast yesterday, that is where the majority of shark sightings are, the water is crystal clear, and it is WARM outside.  Not freezing cold!  Logan and I do have a lot of great memories from this trip so far - seeing a great white just isn't one of them.

Even though I didn't see a shark - I still wanted to get my money's worth from the wetsuit.  If I can't cage dive with a great white, I can watch a movie about one while wearing a wetsuit and drinking a beer.  Cheers to a great vacation!

It's kind of the same thing...


  1. What an awesome blog entry, despite not seeing the great whites. Can you stay an extra day and try again or are you back in Tampa?

  2. Not back in Tampa but the weather is forecasted to be worse for the rest of the trip. Taking my mulligan and moving on to wine country. :)