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As I Kayak to Hawaii, I'll Be Sleeping With The Sharks

Posted: 10/16/2012 5:19 pm

Wave Vidmar is planning a kayak trip from San Francisco to Hawaii. Read more about his adventure here.

My pseudo-brother, Jason, and I were talking about the expedition, launch and such, and he says "you know you'll be in the Red Triangle, don't you?" Red Triangle? I've never heard of such, and I've been sailing these waters for dozens of years. He sees that I don't know what he's talking about, perks up, and with a more definitive tone continues, "Yeah, it's where all the Great White Sharks are!" He gets more enthused: "you should make a nice snack out there on the water!" He breaks out in laughter and revels in it.

He calms down a bit and we both look at the map of the Red Triangle I have pulled up online. Extending from Bodega Bay, to the Farallons, to Big Sur off the California coast. Looking at the red lines on the map, I count out how far I might paddle in it and realize I'll be sleeping with the sharks for two or three days.

My mind races, I imagine what my kayak might look like from the sea below. I laugh as I imagine my large kayak (shark hot dog?) surrounded by two large blue marshmallows (my inflatable sponsons). Will I be tasty? Or even tempting?

Sizing up Aura, (my tandem kayak), to a Pacific Great White shark, my kayak will be longer by two to eight feet. My kayak is just over two feet wide, smaller Great Whites will be too, and one 20-ft long is likely to have a bite radius of nearly four feet! And then there's the weight; Aura and I will weigh 700 pounds at max, my fishy friend would weigh around two tonnes and swim up to 30 miles per hour. I have a paddle, dive knife, and Oakland street attitude for defence.

The bottom of my kayak has been painted to avoid Great White shark attacks. The pattern used is proven to repel Great White sharks, in South Africa! We don't know if the Pacific Great White sharks got the memo or not. It's likely I could find out first hand how the California Great Whites compare with their South African cousins.

The hull of my kayak is made from Kevlar and fiberglass. Seaward Kayaks, the kayak manufacturer that built my kayak, put in extra Kevlar and material, making it the strongest kayak they've ever made. Should a Great White like to take a taste bite, hopefully it will withstand the munching.

Viewing the map, I look from my launch point of Bodega Bay towards the edges of the Red Triangle. Two to three nights. Will my kayak be encircled by sharks as I sleep at night? Will they taste-test me and my kayak?

I know I'll be passing by the Farallon Islands, a small group of islands about 25 miles off the coast of the Golden Gate Bridge in California. This area is a known breeding ground for Pacific Great White sharks. Divers are killed every year or two out there while swimming with Great Whites or being mistaken for a seal.

A few days later, friends also tell me of the kayaker that was ejected from his kayak by a Great White, down in Southern California recently. After being rammed from below the kayaker was thrown out of his boat, then the shark took bites out of his kayak I bet the kayaker's heart rate was up!

And Great Whites aren't the only sharks out there, there are another 16 species of sharks in the waters I will traverse during my expedition to Hawaii.

If you've seen any of Discovery Channel's Shark Week, then you have some idea of what I might be thinking about as I sleep in my kayak for the first few nights of my expedition. If not, then know you'll likely be sleeping more soundly than I, for monsters of the deep may be prowling my craft, and all they may see is potential food.

Sleep tight tonight! And by the way, I'm launching soon!

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  • In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gill are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

  • A shark swims in a tank at the New York Aquarium on August 7, 2001 in Coney Island, New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • A June 11, 2009 file photo provided by Elasmodiver shows scientist Eric Hoffmayer of the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Miss., taking fin measurements of a whale shark in the Gulf of Mexico, about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast. Hoffmayer says whale sharks, the world's biggest fish, are particularly vulnerable if they get into the oil slick. That's because, rather than moving up to the surface and down again, they eat by swimming along the surface, sucking in plankton, fish eggs and small fish. (AP Photo/Elasmodiver, Andy Murch, File)

  • Home And Away actor Jon Sivewright launches the new Adventure experience Grey Nurse Shark Feed Dive at Manly's Ocean World on December 18, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

  • This Saturday, June 26, 2010 photo released by Bruce Sweet shows a juvenile great white shark swimming in the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles off the coast of Gloucester, Mass., in the rich fishing ground known as Stellwagen Bank. The shark was pulled up by Gloucester-based Sweet Dream III, tagged, and returned to the sea. (AP Photo/www.SportFishingMA.com, Bruce Sweet)

  • A shark swims in a tank at the New York Aquarium August 7, 2001 in Coney Island, New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • A shark swim inside a fish tank as a diver, left, cleans the glass at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011. The Two Oceans Aquarium hosts group activities for school children and students which include the identification and observation of fish and other species. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

  • In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gill are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

  • In this picture taken on September 3, 2011, an environmental activist releases a baby black-tip shark into the sea as part of an operation organised by the sharks protection group Dive Tribe off the coast of the southern Thai sea resort of Pattaya. On average an estimated 22,000 tonnes of sharks are caught annually off Thailand for their fins -- a delicacy in Chinese cuisine once enjoyed only by the rich, but now increasingly popular with the wealthier middle class. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Walter Szulc Jr., in kayak at left, looks back at the dorsal fin of an approaching shark at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass. in Cape Cod on Saturday, July 7, 2012. An unidentified man in the foreground looks towards them. No injuries were reported. The previous week, a 12- to 15-foot great white shark was seen off Chatham in the first confirmed shark sighting of the season according to a state researcher. Two more sightings were reported Tuesday, July 2, 2012. The same waters are filled with seals, which draw the sharks because they are a favorite food of the animal. (AP Photo/Shelly Negrotti)

  • This undated photo released by The Galapagos National Park of Ecuador shows a diver alongside a whale shark in the Galapagos Island, Ecuador. (AP Photo/The Galapagos National Park of Ecuador)

  • Blacktip reef shark

    A green sea turtle (R) (Chelonia mydas) swims next to a blacktip reef shark (L) (Carcharhinus melanopterus) in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres ('House of the Sea'), in Vienna on June 27, 2012. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A blacktip reef shark

    A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swims in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres ('House of the Sea') in Vienna on June 27, 2012. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Bonnethead shark

    A Bonnethead shark swims at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on April 26, 2012.The Aquarium features a collection of over 11,000 animals representing over 500 different species. It focuses on the Pacific Ocean in three major permanent galleries, sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.The non-profit Aquarium sees 1.5 million visitors a year and has a total staff of over 900 people including more than 300 employees and about 650 volunteers. (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Blacktip reef shark

    A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus swims in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres in Vienna on June 27, 2012. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Baby Nurse Shark Birth Captured on Camera

    The newborn is being kept away from the rest of the sharks at Yantai Haichang Whale and Shark Aquarium.

  • Rare Shark Frenzy Caught On Camera

    A school of feasting sharks was captured on camera just a few hundred meters off shore in Perth, Australia.

  • A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus mela

    A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swims in the aquarium of the Haus des Meeres ('House of the Sea') in Vienna on June 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/GettyImages)

 

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