Swimming with the Rays

by Margie on May 26, 2009

Yesterday morning for me was just like any other morning here on Dosia…i woke up, wiped the sleep from my eyes, glanced out the window to see what morning weather the day had delivered, and poured myself a cup of french press java. Boat Monkey (a.k.a. Drew) dropped into the galley from the cockpit above and was too quick to throw out “ready to go feed some stingrays and swim with some sharks!?”  Okay, 1) can i at least finish my cup of coffee and 2) you seem WAY too excited about this!

I, in particular, was not quite as thrilled as Drew to be throwing myself onto the kitchen table of these sea monsters just because we had some old oyster and shrimp meat we needed to get rid of. My palms started sweating, I got antsy, and suddenly that cup of coffee was doing nothing to help keep my mouth from feeling like one giant cottonball. But I quickly realized that I was not getting out of this so I unwillingly threw on a bikini.  Mom….you’ll be glad to know that I finally wanted that BIGGER bathing suit you always encouraged me to buy. One that would cover more (if not all) of my skin!

Due to large cruise ships and resorts around here there was an actual feeding area for these rays. I was pretty relieved to know that they expect the feedings and were used to it even though it is not at all a controlled environment. The sharks…well they just crash the party on their own. As we dinghied into the area Drew pointed out several black tips just off the pass. One or two choice four letter words later and I was checking to make sure I was completely inside the boat with no limbs hanging out!

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We found a good spot, threw out the anchor in about four feet of water, and within fifteen seconds a torpedo of stingrays was headed our way. After they cleared out from under the boat Drew hopped in and they were ALL over him. He was as calm as he could be while I snapped away with the camera. His prior diving experience and time in the water allots him a level of calmness in these situations that I very much lack.  About that time I glanced over to see a guy holding his toddler aged daughter in the water and she, too, was surrounded by them. Alright you big pansy…if she can do it, you can do it (even though she was screaming bloody murder)…

In I went, raw fish in hand, and there they came! I don’ t know who was screaming louder, me or that little girl. For me, all I could think was “one of these killed that crocodile hunter man.” I was definitely freaking out and grabbing onto Drew to shield them off and protect myself. There is just something NOT normal about this massive grey thing with a long tail swimming up and down my body looking for yummy treats.

Of course, within thirty minutes or so, I had calmed down quite a bit and began to enjoy myself. I can officially say I’ve looked eye to eye with a stingray before and it was pretty flippin’ cool! When feeding them it’s almost like a suction effect when they glide over your hand and take it from you. I loved running my hands across their wings towards their tails which  almost felt like running your fingers over a wet mushroom. Very soft, almost slimy.
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Believe it or not I was more calm around the sharks than I was around the stingrays and of course Drew was swimming around chasing after them. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that they were not trying to feed out of my hand. They pretty much minded their own business and tended to the scraps that the stingrays happened to overlook. Being that close to them was pretty incredible. I know some people who read this may think I’m being a wuss, a baby, making a big deal out of nothing…. but for me, this was a HUGE step. There have been times that I would not jump off the boat because I was afraid something below would bite me. So to see that there was something in the water that could this time and I still jumped in, big step towards overcoming some major fears I have had for a long time.

Thirty minutes later, still relishing in my accomplishment and “let’s do it again one day,” Drew and I went for lunch at a roadside roulotte and began discussing future plans. Over sandwiches he decides that we will not visit Auckland in New Zealand later in the year if I won’t agree that while there, I will hurl my body off of one of the largest bungee jumps in the entire world. I dropped my fork, removed my shades, and gave him my very best “you’ve got to be kidding me” looks. One step at a time Drew, one step at a time…………

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick - S/V Godspeed May 31, 2009 at 11:27 am

Hey, just remember how many people have not done what you have done! You are one of a select few.

Of course, I think that bungee jumping is just crazy, but that’s just me….

Fair winds,

Rick

Carrie June 1, 2009 at 8:59 am

Margie-
As someone who has had an unfriendly encounter with a stingray, let me tell you that you are in no way a wimp or a wuss! I stepped on one of those nasty things when we were cruising in the Sea of Cortez and it was the most painful experience of my life. And sharks, too, huh? What a trooper you are! Kind of sounds like Drew and my husband, Bryan, would get along fantastically – they are both thrill seekers and lovers of scary marine animals. You hang in there, and keep posting your great stories!
Carrie
s/v Salty Dog
Pearson 365 ketch

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