Whatever You Do, Don’t Panic.Posted: March 11, 2014
i’ve always been an avid swimmer. lifeguard, swim team, surfing, LOVE swimming and being around the water.
i got sent to guantanamo bay as soon as i came into the navy. i was 20. there are 3 things to do in GTMO: work-out, drink, scuba. oh, and throw shit at banana rats and 6 foot iguanas. i was at the beach with some friends and one guy had snorkeling gear. i asked if i could borrow it and went out into the water.
it was fucking beautiful. the water was crystal clear and it was about 15 feet to the floor. i was about 40 feet from shore. i was looking at the fish, the plants, the coral, everything i could take in. suddenly i realized all the fish disappeared. then i saw why.
there was a 10 foot tiger shark cruising about 20 yards away.
i froze. i kept facing the shark and slowly paddled back to shore. it finally came towards me then turned about 10 yards away from me and disappeared.
i continued slowly head back to shore and prayed to sweet Jesus this thing wasn’t going to come out of no where and truck me. i had heard PLENTY of stories from the cubans how tiger sharks would circle the rafts and wait for them to fall apart. one told me how a shark kept running into the boat trying to sink it.
so i was justifiably concerned.
i made it back to the beach unscathed, calmly left the water, took off the snorkeling gear and joined my friends. “dude, you were only gone for 15 minutes.” 15 fucking minutes. it felt like an hour. i explained what happened and my buddy (army guy, don’t remember his name) said, “oh yeah dude, cuba’s loaded with tiger sharks, they can be pretty aggressive too, you’re lucky.” i looked at all of them who were nodding in agreement and i replied, “FUCK ALL OF YOU!!!!”
they just laughed, then told me not to snorkel if it’s murky because the barracudas will snap at you. needless to say, my snorkeling career ended. i was just surprised that i was able to remain as calm as i did. then again, i knew if i panicked it might have drawn more attention from it.
then there was sicily. me and some friends rented a few kayaks and headed out to taormina and hit the beaches. one of my coworkers…..OH, wait.
i was there with my new girlfriend (a local girl) and she brought a few friends. well once we set up out little area the gf and her pals took off their tops, not an unusual thing. not unusual for THEM. they notice 6 american boys staring wide eyed and my gf asked med, “questo non e normal per le americani?” (this isn’t normal for americans?). i shook my head no and the gf fired something back in sicilian and the tops were put back on.
so, my coworker asked me to paddle out to this rock formation about 2 football fields away. we were just over half way there when i notice a large shadow. i looked up thinking a plane was passing over head, but saw only clear blue skies. i looked down and caught the tell-tale sign of a side-to-side slow swoop of a large tale.
“danny, what’s that?”
i froze. we had at least a 12 foot great white swim under our kayak. the water had to be about 30-40 feet deep. i told Rose, “sweetie, i need you to be very calm, and not say anything. but that’s a shark.” her face instantly turned white and i could see her trembling. i slowly paddled the kayak back to shore and rose was nervously slashing. i told her to quit paddling and keep her eye on the shark.
anyone that watched shark shit knows the LAST thing you want to do is splash water when a shark is about. i also wanted to give Rose something to do to keep her from panicking.
once we were in waist deep water Rose jumped out the kayak and ran straight to her bf. she’s from Massachusetts and said in that stupid accent, “there was a fucking shark, it was fucking wicked huge.”
the gf asked what had happened and i told her, “un tiburon.” (spanish for shark, i was still learning italian, but the 2 are very similar). the said, “un grandissimo bianco.” the gf calmly pointed out the area between sicily up to naples is breeding grounds for great whites, but they never bother people.
sometimes, you find yourself in situations where everything tells you you’re fucked. in both cases i was scared as hell. but i KNEW i had to keep cool or things could go VERY badly. sometimes, you’re thrown into a situation and it’s imperative you keep your cool. my coworker never went into water deeper than her waist during her 3 years in sicily. me and my buddy Billy swam from messina to the mainland of italy a few months later. lol.
the next line in the scene is joe telling freddy, “that’s how you do it kid. you knew how to handle that situation. you shit your pants and you dive in and swim.”