Great Whites, Ted Baker and Me

Back to February 2009. Charlotte and I had just got married and we were kicking about in South Africa on our honeymoon.

We’d chosen South Africa because it offered us a whole heap of exciting things to do. One of those things was cage diving with great white sharks. Something we’d both always wanted to do.

At this point in the holiday we’d made our base in a lovely little place called Hermanus. Just a short drive away was the town of Gansbaai and this was where we were launching for our shark diving trip.

Before setting out we had our safety briefing and we were told that the conditions that day weren’t brilliant. We could expect poor visibility meaning there was no scuba or snorkel and the sharks would probably need to be baited. The captain also said to us that the sea might be a bit rough and so if we’ve got to vomit to make sure we do it over the side of the boat and not in the toilet down below. This didn’t really bother me as I hadn’t been sea sick before.

We were headed towards Dyer Island where there is a really good concentration of great whites and as we set of the sea was fine.

We were given our wet suits to put on but for some unknown reason I’d not bought any trunks or shorts with me. Because everyone was getting changed on deck I just had to keep my undies on and then go commando later. Anyway, they were a nice pair of Ted Bakers so I didn’t mind too much if people saw.

The cage itself holds 4 and it was one in one out on rotation. Underwater visibility was indeed poor. This meant that one chap would throw out the chum and the spotter would shout ‘down’ when there was a shark coming. Everyone in the cage would then take a deep breath, hold onto a bar inside the cage and hold themselves underwater as the sharks came past.


Words just cannot describe coming face to face with a great white. One smashed into the cage so violently at one point I thought it was game over. The adrenaline running through you at that moment is some rush indeed. Powerful, graceful and beautiful animals. It’s an amazing, unforgettable experience.


When I got out though I felt a bit cold and the sea had got up little bit too. I decided that I’d probably better get dry and actually you could see some good action from the top viewing deck anyway. So I grabbed my bag from the lockers and went into the bathroom to change.

Of course, I couldn’t get my wet suit off could I? As I was struggling, I was suddenly acutely aware that I could see how the boat was pitching and rolling just by looking at the horizon through the port hole window.

I eventually wriggled out of my wet suit and peeled off my wet undies. And that’s when it hit me – an uncontrollable urge to puke. I didn’t have time to think and I immediately lost my breakfast in the toilet.

Dazed, confused and naked – I then remembered what the captain had said. Shit.

Nevermind, I’d just flush away the evidence and that would be that. He’d never know. Of course this was a boat so there was no flush just a pump handle. So I gave two quick pumps. That’d do the trick…

But instead of my breakfast going down – the toilet erupted like a volcano – spraying vomit back all over the seat and all over the floor.

Now I was in trouble. And still naked.

So I did the only thing I could do. I mopped it all up with my wet Ted Bakers and promptly chucked them in the waste basket. There was no lid on the bin so it must have stunk. But out of courtesy to my fellow passengers I threw a few tissues on top. I washed my hands, put some clothes on and went back up on deck. Commando of course.

I’m sure everyone knew. I could feel their eyes on me but by that time I didn’t care. I was green with sea sickness and I was frankly all over the place. I’d have took my chance with the sharks just to get back on dry land.

I couldn’t get back quick enough but as soon as I stepped off that boat I was fine. Like nothing had happened. Weird.

So we’d ticked one off the bucket list but our souvenir DVD didn’t really tell the full story.

I wonder who the poor sod was that had to empty that bin….