So the main idea of going 330 km's out of our way to go to Port Lincoln was to inquire about cage diving with sharks. Yuppers, I said sharks, call me crazy, well, I think you might be right.
But first, about Port Lincoln. A small town down the Eyre Peninsula southwest of Port Augusta, a main fishing port - crab, lobster and tuna, of Australia. One of the restaurants has been named to have the best sea food in all of Southern Australia, three years in a row!
There are also a few wineries around the area, the Boston Bay wineries which I found out has wine in the Calgary coop liquor stores - how crazy is that!!! Boston Bay has won 2 Jimmy Watson awards - the most sought after award in Australia in the wine industry, we sampled the 2007 Shiraz winner, I think?!! Another winery was closed, and another one we could not find, then stumbled upon it while visiting the Glen Forest Tourist Farm, but they didn't have much of a cellar door, but we still got to sample a couple wines.
The Glen forest farm has been running for 25 years and so the animals are very friendly! My favorite was the birds, I later became known as the bird whisperer! I had some bird feed on my hand and not long after waiting, I had budgies and parrots eating away. None went to Rob, so I took his feed in the other hand and I'm sure I had 10 or 11 birds fighting away at the bird seed in both hands. One even came up and sat on my shoulder, I wanted to take him home, but Rob said no :(
We took a few hours and went to Coffin Bay, a short 48 km's west of Port Lincoln. A very picturesque bay, with beautiful water and beaches. Unfortunately the tide was low so we could swim. But we had a nice picnic lunch and went for a walk along the beach.
Now, back to those sharks. We did a little research and Port Lincoln was the best place to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures. Calypso charters also offered a one day tour where as all the other tours offered along the south coast of Australia where 2 -8 days, and a LOT more money. The one day tour was enough money as it was and we decided that since we where there, we might as well as it would be more difficult to get the PL once we arrived in Adelaide as its about 650km's away. When booking we heard that the shark sightings where hit and miss, and the previous 2 days where cancelled due to weather - kinda sounded like the whale shark tour. Again, we talked and decided 'when it rome, do as the romans'; so we went ahead and booked. We knew it was a risk, but it was one we where willing to take.
March 4th was the big day, and a long one at that. Up at 0530 for a pick up at 0630. After a briefing from the skipper we set off to sea just after 0700. I have to say the food was excellent and they accommodated with my allergies. We where served breakfast, morning tea, lunch, and two afternoon snacks with drinks both hot and cold served all day. Our destination was the Neptune Islands, approximately a 2 1/2 journey on the vessel traveling at 14knots (25km/hr). We met some of the people on board, all from different areas of the world and got to know the crew - the skipper, deck hand, and cook/videographer. I got to play skipper for a bit (heehee) and by 0930 we arrived at the islands. We had a quick look at the sea lions near by - always a good thing - bait for sharks :) and set anchor not far away.
After a briefing on the cage and how things where to work, he asked for 4 volunteers to go first, Rob and I accepted. We put on our sexy wet suits, the cage got put in the water and James the deck hand started chumming the waters - fish oil in two bags off the side of the boat, buckets of fish guts and fish blood put in the water and chunks of tuna strung out on a line behind the boat. We got a briefing on the regulators as this was both Rob's and my first time diving, lots of lead weight put on as he 'wanted' us to sink to the bottom of the cage (thanks) and off in the cage we went. The water was pretty cold and when I first went down I felt like I wasn't getting enough air through the regulator, and the bubbles went up into my mask bring in water as well. I had to return to the surface quickly to set myself up again. I realized that I was breathing more air in then breathing out which was sending me into a bit of a panic. I had to calm myself down, I held onto the regulator as well as the mask, and breathed slowly. It worked and eventually I was able to let go of the regulator and mask, thank god there where no sharks by when this was happening, I would have panicked even more for sure. We kept our eyes out in all directions and could see James periodically chumming the water. Nothing, nada, zip. I could see a fishing line between the cage and the boat that James had set up, and didn't think much of it. We waited, and waited, and waited. Then someone pointed down, I looked, saw nothing. Then someone pointed up, I though we where being summoned up but when I breached the surface, James said, do you see the shark??? I said no, and immediately put my head back under, and there, down below me was a shark (not sure what kind, but not a pointer) that James had caught on his fishing line!!!!!!! He brought it up, but then lowered it a bit as he was small enough that he could have gotten in through the viewing part of the cage (eeeeeeeee). The shark pulled away with a vengeance and hit the side of the cage - closest to me, and scared the shit out of me!!!! We all thought this was a good sign and there would be more to come for sure, but nothing. We where all lead to believe that James was going to tap on the cage to tell us to get out, so we all just waited, looking, getting very cold and my hip started to hurt from having two lead belts on. It got to the point where I had had enough, and when I came to the surface James asked if I wanted lunch, I was like Yeah!!! We all got out and we found out that we had been in there for nearly 2 hours!!! I actually felt a bit nauseous getting out of the cage and almost threw up over board, but it settled quickly and I chowed down on lunch.
In the end, we saw no great white sharks. A HUGE bummer and let down, but that'snature. The crew did take us to Hamilton island to swim with some sea lions. A bit weird as we went to a place where there are sea lions as this is what the great whites like to eat - and now we where going to go swimming with them?!!!?! But it was all good, and the sea lions where so cute and playful! On the way back to port we came across a pod of about 100 dolphins. They all come out to play with us, swimming and jumping with the speed of the boat. The skipper slowed down so even the small ones could play, they he eventually sped up and there where 2 left, then 1, and eventually he took off as well. So cute and so amazing. I had never seen that many dolphins in one place!
We arrived back at port at 1930, and where completely exhausted. We where given a half priced voucher that is valued for a year to return and try our luck again. The crew on board where awesome though and it turned out to be a pretty fun day, despite not seeing the great whites. I would recommend this to ANYONE that is at all interested as I think it is an opportunity of a life time, and I think Rob and I will try and return and do it again - this time I will be a bit more comfortable with the regulator!! Their website is http://www.sharkcagediving.com.au/ .
The cage we where willing getting into
Where's the sharks?!??
The beautiful dolphins
The sea lions!!