After the shark had made its first pass under me, it did a short fast turn. It was at this time I first saw the amazing white contrast of it's underbelly and realized - I was the bait sitting dead centre at the end of a burley trail of my own making.
This burley already included fish bait and burley plus fresh blood from my cut knee - all of which was still draining freely into the sea through the scuppers in the cockpit.
The shark was now very interested in what was on offer. When the shark came back it started nudging the bow of the kayak. In hindsight the shark was probably testing it to discern the source of the scent and locate which parts were edible.
It was all too much. Another more powerful wave of fear overcame me. My body was screaming, fight or flee NOW, but my mind was saying stay calm, keep quiet, and you might live.
I completely lost control of my bodily functions. Bladder and bowels let go at that point, and I began vomiting.
The burley trail now had new scents for the shark to explore, it started circling in an oval around the kayak again to check them out. I grabbed all my remaining bait and burley, put it into a bag with a sinker, and threw it as far as I could in the
hope it would distract the shark.
But it wasn't to be, it took little effort for the shark to inspect the bag before returning it's focus to me. The shark continued its oval circling vigil, first out wider then closing in and occasionally nudging the kayak.
By this time I was vomiting all over myself. Still 400 meters out from the nearest point of land I decided to try to paddle very slowly towards safety, carefully I began by dipping the oar, but only when the great white shark was paying the least attention.
Progress was excruciatingly slow considering how much I longed to be sitting safely ashore.
When I looked up to take bearings I often lost sight of the shark - only to have it repeatedly surprise me, usually by bumping into the bow or stern areas or coming up from below. It seemed as though time itself had stopped. I was crying my eyes out,
certain I was going to die. I even tried swearing at it to stop and leave me alone.
The shark ignored my pleas, it bumped into me at least 12 times over the next twenty to thirty minutes. As I was finally nearing shallower water the shark somehow pushed or pulled the stern of the kayak under the water, I think it didn't want me to
get away. I didn't see exactly what happened as I was looking ahead at the time.
I was still at least 100 meters from the rocky outcrop that promised safety if I could only reach it.
I had the will, and I begged God to give me the strength to try and make it. Then, with all my heart and every ounce of power I could muster I paddled frantically towards the shore - away from the icy grip the shark had held over every movement I made.
As I neared the shallower water I cast a look over my right shoulder and saw the shark veer away from the jagged inshore rocks, turn and head back to the outer reef. I paddled the kayak slowly through a series of very shallow reefs and back to the beach.
Shock Sets In Soon After Attack
The mixed emotions I had coming through the shallows to the beach was a combination of extreme fear and utter relief at the same time. For me it is a feeling that I cannot adequately put into words even now. I was later told that upon my arrival back
to shore I was white as a ghost, uncontrollably shaking, vomiting and crying, while continually repeating how big the shark was.
During that night I had cold sweats and woke up to my son, Peter shaking me. He told me how I wasn't breathing properly and had been stopping breathing for up to a minute and a half at a time. This was the first realisation that the events of the day
had affected me deeply.
I rang the police to advise them of the shark. They asked us to call them back if it was still there so we all went back to the top of the hill and there it was - still circling the outer reef.
After ringing them back we watched it for the next six hours, along with a lot of other curious people. One tourist filmed the shark for a good 15 minutes. A boat load of people even went out to the reef for a closer look.
One started snorkelling but only lasted a few seconds before climbing onto the reef. He stayed there until the boat came right up to the rocks so he could get back onboard without entering the water. Their boat slowed as they went past the shark so
they may have got a good look at it.
After The Attack - Long Term Effects
The most obvious outward sign of how deeply the shark attack had affected me was that I became a chronic stutterer from the time I arrived back at the beach. This condition lasted for weeks.
At a personal level I went from being a confident kayak fisher to sleepless nights plagued with nightmares, I was unable to concentrate for long periods of time. My whole world was turned upside down.