Shark Trip Reviews
Posted on Thursday, 13 August 2020
Hope my email finds you well especially during these unprecedented times the whole world is having to contend with? How are things in South Africa and particularly Simons Town? It's not enough that you have Port & Starboard to contend with but now this whole pandemic!
I appreciate my email may seem completely out of the blue however when logging into Facebook recently I've been presented with memories as Facebook does. These memories are from three years ago when we made our trip of a lifetime from the UK to South Africa but furthermore complete a 37 year dream to cage dive with Great White sharks.
Like some many others, my passion and fascination (well I thought I had a passion until I met Chris and you guys - you take it to another level and beyond) was ignited after seeing the film Jaws. Yes that old cliche. It sparked an interest there and then and from that moment on, I was shark mad. At the time finding books etc on the subject of sharks was quite difficult but that didn't stop me. However the ultimate was always going to be to cage dive with them in the Great White capital - South Africa.
Now jump forward some 36 years to 2016. We've just attended a funeral of a family member that was only a couple of years older than myself. It wasn't the first funeral of a family member we'd attended (I lost my Mother and Father in Law a few years before), however he was basically my age. This just resonated in my head and I just couldn't shake it. It really brought home that fact that life is too short and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. So after discussing this with my wife, it was decided that my life long dream to travel to SA and dive with Great Whites could not be put off any longer. We would be going in 2017.
Skip forward another year, a whole plethora of planning & booking (after all if we're going to SA we might as well make the most of it and take in some safari sight seeing too), it was finally time to embark on our trip of lifetime. Did we mention that we'd also booked two shark diving trips - one with Marine Dynamics and a second with a company called Apex Shark Expeditions - you may have heard of them?
Brimming with excitement we left the UK and headed for SA, first stopping at Johannesberg before then continuing on to Hoedspruit and our 5 day safari at Gomo Gomo. We couldn't have imagined getting off to a better start having observed the Big 5 during our stay. Leaving Hoedspruit we then flew down to Cape Town and then a short drive to our final destination and base for the next 8 days at Simons Town. Why Simons Town? If it's good enough for Chris Fallows to base his business there then it's good enough for us!
Shortly after arriving and unpacking we headed down to say hello to the guys at Apex who until now, had been liaising with us via email. In fact I think I was still unpacking as we drove down to Apex from Froggy Farm. Entering Apex I remember being greeted by beaming smiles and welcoming personalities. I really can't put into words the aura the place had for me or how I was actually feeling. Having said our "Hello's" and confirmed exactly which shark nutters we were, the next thing to come out of my mouth was the inevitable "how are the shark sightings?". I'd been following and reading about the potential Orca predations at Gansbaai however I really wasn't prepared for what Bernie and Karyn had to tell us next. My heart dropped, dreams shattered right there and then when they told us that no sharks had been seen at Seal Island or even in False Bay for sometime. And that Port & Starboard had also frequented the area. I really couldn't believe our luck. I'd waited 37 years but finally managed to make the trip of my dreams for it all to be dashed by two bloody Orcas which up to this point, I'd always liked. If it wasn't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all. And so it was that our scheduled trip with Apex followed the same fate as the one booked with Marine Dynamics and duly cancelled.
Each morning I'd then make Apex my first port (and Starboard) of call to ascertain if any trips had been undertaken the previous day and if (by some miracle) a GW had been seen. This was often before I'd had breakfast it was that important to me! Each day we were presented with the same heartbreaking dream shattering news. Talk about being a glutton for punishment! However we;d travelled all this way and I wasn't about to give up without a fight (stiff upper lip and all that) plus I found Bernie's personality infectious and loved conversing with her. She probably thought I was a pain and wished I'd leave her alone to get on with her work).
Then one morning as we prepared to receive the 'bad news' again Bernie advised that there was a possibility of getting us on a trip at Mossel Bay. The answer was a resounding 'YES' even before she'd finished telling us the details. I'm not sure how many times I actually said 'yes' before Bernie realised, well, the answer was 'Yes' :)
Everything was arranged for us as well as the transfer to and from Mossel Bay. The driver (Mohammed) was very friendly and professional and got us there on time after a very early start (4.30 pick up). I remember every detail of our wait at the White Shark Africa HQ, the walk down to the boat and then the trip out to Seal Island, Mossel Bay. And it was long before we saw our first Great White!!!
The adventure was so exhilarating and totally beyond words, beyond comprehension. Needless to say both my wife and son (he was 10 at the time and also shark mad) thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As for me ..... I'm still speechless and will never ever forget my time visiting South Africa and finally achieving my dream. It was absolutely magnificent and every bit rewarding to the soul as I anticipated it would be. More so.
Although it had been a long (but well worth it) trip to Mossel Bay having been up early and arriving back at Simons Town fairly late, we were still up early the next day and couldn't wait to regale our experience to Bernie and the rest of the team but more importantly to thank her for all the time, effort and perseverance in trying to help us out and ultimately achieve my dream. And the ising on the cake ...... we got to meet and have our photo taken with Chris (see attached). In all the excitement we neglected to get Chris to sign his book for us however Bernie yet again came to the rescue and managed to get Chris to sign a note which he wrote to us.
We're certainly not film makers but we uploaded the GoPro footage we took to Youtube for friends and relatives to see and of course, so we could relive this experience again and again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NnwhY-V_pQ
Wow ... I've managed to write a considerable number of words in this email and yet it's still completely inadequate in terms of saying thank you. Although it's 3 years ago to the day, we'll never forget the experience that you helped make happen. You helped make a dream come true and we'll never forget that!!!
Very best wishes,
Darren, Helen & Keiran Yates