Frenzy for Sharks

The turmoil of activity generated by the media about my shark encounter in a kayak would not have been matched by a haunch of beef thrown to a pack of Great Whites.

Within minutes of my photos appearing on the front page of the Western Morning News my phone, with its unbelievably annoying ringtone, didn’t stop being annoying all day. Must change the tune (get my twelve year old daughter to change the tune).

People from press agencies, Radio Cornwall, BBC Spotlight, ITV, Radio 5 Live and some radio station from Canada called. Bit suspicious about this last one as there wasn’t a two second gap between talking but I’ve been told things have moved on since last time I did a Transatlantic.

Yes,yes,yes,yes,yes was my reply to whether I would do an interview or supply photos. I don’t have a problem with sharing my enthusiasm for my thing (and it’s got to be better than Raol Moat). Am I a yes person?. Probably, yes. Oops there I go again. I said yes all day, until that is when I was asked by the presenter on ITV Westcountry Live whether THAT was the moment the shark dragged me half a mile out to sea. Even though this was the event that had stimulated the interest of over 260 press reports across the globe from Ireland to Fiji and the Washington Post to the Sydney Morning Herald, I inexplicably replied ‘No’.

They rapidly lost interest in me and put on something about Raol Moat.

Headline in the 'Sun'

 After the various broadcasts, messages arrived from friends I hadn’t seen for ages…..

‘a good face for radio’ ….unoriginal. you can do better than that, Graham

‘ I must say I wouldn’t have recognised you’…. actually you’re the odd one out, Mike, with a full head of hair at 52.

‘you looked more like the shark than the shark’….thanks Jeremy. But at least it only refers to the size of my conk (hopefully).

of course the comparison to jaws had to be made...this was the Daily Mail

The highpoint of the evening came, however, when the photos appeared on ‘the One Show’ and drew a comment from Dannii Minogue. As far as my daughters were concerned, it doesn’t get better than that. But for me it would have been a lot better if one of my own idols, Sir David Attenborough (requires no explanation) or Captain Sensible (requires quite a lot of explanation) ,had acknowledged my battle with my gnashing and toothy adversary.

Time to get back to hands-on kayak fishing. My old chum Cush was down for the weekend and of course bravado talk resulted in a plan to catch more Tope. However a very enjoyable wedding party followed by a Rocky Horror fancy dress bash (yep….two parties in one night!), resulted in a slothful and nauseous start on Sunday.

Lynmouth was our destination. We tied our kayaks together and sat around half a mile offshore waiting for a bite. Conversation fizzled out, I caught a couple of dogfish and Cush politely questioned how long I was planning to stay. You mean you want to go home now, Cush.

Mini shark...a dogfish

So we started to pack up and I started to reel in my mackerel bait and, totally and utterly unbelievably,  it happened again. My rod bounced twice and a tope tore off with my line. At exactly the same time Cush somehow tipped his kayak over and ended up wallowing about amongst a raft of flotsam. I was concentrating on holding the shark but was pleased to see our Snickers bars still floating. Oh and Cush, in his drysuit, bobbed like a cork.Phew.

I gallantly volunteered to come and help Cush once I had landed the fish, and started to be dragged away, but it was smaller than the last two (about 35lbs) and I soon had it beside the kayak.

Tope on

Cush heroically reappeared having clambered back onto the kayak. Not an easy feat (mind you its even more difficult to fall out in the first place).

He grabbed a couple of ‘trophy’ photos.

Upon arrival back at Lynmouth I was surprised to be hailed by a gang of lairy beer-swillers outside a pub as we wheeled the kayaks past on their trolleys. They guffawed something about tope and the telly and then dissolved into laughter which was louder and lasted a lot longer than it really should have done. I felt it was a good thing I didn’t catch all of their alcoholic comments. Does Dannii have this problem?

p.s. I would like to put in a claim for the first shark story to go FROM England TO Australia (and not the other way round)