JUL 31
Posted 12:50pm

Xtreme Dream Update: Shark Protocol

Intrepid Ops Team

NOT yet Amber Alert, but just to say we are flirting with hope of conditions on tail end of Dorian, making her way toward us middle of this week.

In hopes of a departure soon, going to now send you several consecutive missives, hopefully addressing each and every issue on our docket.

Shark Protocol:

Two experienced and able divers, both with many years' experience in the water with sharks, without fatal guns or spears, head up our Shark Safety Team.

Jon Rose, also EMT, is our Shark Team Captain. Jon was the brave (and unfortunate) individual who was stung badly by the Box Jellies in our 2011 crossing. Jon has assembled a crew of 6 strong and experienced divers (with two alternates).

His second is Rob MacDonald, with many years under his belt diving among sharks. 2011, Rob literally went nose to nose with an Oceanic White Tip...way out yonder....we were mightily impressed.

Rounding out the Team:

  • Niko Gazzale

  • Jon Costenbader

  • Travis Gregg

  • Eddie Tronolone

  • Andy Harris

  • Ben Shepardson

We spend much time on the prep for the Box Jellies, and rightly so, but we never forget that several species of sharks (just off the Cuban coast, way out in the middle, and again at the FL reefs) are large, aggressive, and should be taken very seriously....especially given that we do not use lights through the nights, in order not to attract jellyfish, bait fish, nor sharks.

It has been pitch black out there on our previous trips, to the point that the Handlers and Drivers cannot even see me, just 18 feet away. I thank these Shark Divers for their courage in getting in that night-time black with me. They have gained my confidence...and my respect.

Our Shark Safety Dive Team is prepared on Several Fronts:

  1. They will work in shifts, always diving two together...never one solo diver in the water at any one time.

  2. They use no guns nor spears. We will not under any circumstances kill an animal on our crossing.

  3. They have custom-made PVC piping to prod and push and get attention away from me and toward themselves.

  4. They have underwater lights rigging, to sweep the area around me, in subtle, intermittent periods.

  5. They are supported by the two kayaks (one just to my right, one just behind me) who carry the Shark Shields on the bottoms of their boats. The Shields create an elliptical field of electricity. We have seen demonstrations of these Shields used to great effect. Other hand, we have also been advised that sharks that hang around a while become somewhat inured to the field.

  6. Dr. Patrick Rice, shark expert, has given us some strong odor substance he has created that evidently drives sharks away. The Shark Team will tie bags of this substance to the chain that dangles in front of me on the Swim Streamer, especially during the nights. They will also take a bag of this stuff with them to dangle off the inflatable, should we go into Squall Contingency.

  7. Dr. Rice has also given the Shark Team 3 cans of a milky substance that, when ejected and thrown into the water under true emergency circumstances, drives sharks away.

Steve Munatones, Head of Open Water Swimming worldwide, who will be with us as objective Observer, says that under dire situations of life-and-death, a swimmer can exit the water for a common-sense period of time.

We WILL NOT interrupt the swim due to squalls...BUT if any of the Shark Divers are extremely concerned by an animal in very close proximity to me and order me out of the water under sharp command, the Handlers will quickly pull me up onto their station on Voyager. We will then wait for the Divers to deem it safe for me to return to the water, some short time later. This all comes under "Fair Practices" of a Continuous Swim and does not move the swim into a "Staged" category. We highly doubt any such situation should arise, but the Shark Team is prepared.

Will be back to you soon with next communique.



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