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

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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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