I’ll give Barry Foster his due. As much as I hate to admit it, he has bigger stones than I. Yesterday he voluntarily jumped into the water, 60 miles offshore, in a quest for underwater footage of us catching snapper. In my opinion, that is true dedication, particularly when you consider he had no snorkel gear, not even a mask.
When the opportunity to get some underwater red snapper footage presented itself, without a moment’s hesitation, Barry slipped into the incredibly clear blue water, which we had been excited to find much closer to shore than normal. A few seconds later, when I claimed I saw a large shark swimming below him (which I did not), he didn’t think it was nearly as funny as I did. In his defense, I should probably mention that Barry’s attempt to get underwater footage a few years ago was the subject of my earlier story, “Shark Bait?”
In that story, which I won’t completely retell, we were on a snapper trip when Ron Salley, one of our anglers, hooked something big. His rod bent almost in half as he worked to get the fish up off the 100 foot plus deep bottom. We figured he had probably hooked a nice-sized grouper. Barry disappeared into the salon of Vixen and emerged a minute later in his swimsuit and snorkel gear, ready to jump in once Ron had the fish close to the surface.
Steven Kuljis was standing at the ready, gaff in hand, when he got a look at Ron’s catch and yelled out, “It’s a hammerhead shark—a big one, maybe 150 pounds!” This understandably terminated Barry’s underwater footage plans, at least for that one day.
Barry apparently has a short memory, or perhaps a subconscious death wish, because, as I said, when presented with another opportunity for underwater footage occurred, overboard he went!
Although he obviously understood the very real possibility of sharks being in the water, he was skeptical when I sounded a warning at actually seeing a fin cutting through the water. “Shark,” I yelled. Barry, no doubt recalling the story of the boy who cried wolf, gave me a look of disbelief – until he saw that I was pointing at a large fin breaking the surface, heading directly at him. I’m guessing the fin was even more impressive from Barry’s vantage point than it was from mine, because if he had been in the Olympics, I am certain he would have taken the gold.
Vixen has no swim platform, since that would interfere with our blue water fishing. So getting back onboard is no easy task. Barry’s requests for my assistance went unanswered as I remained doubled over laughing, unable to catch my breath. When one of the other anglers finally did assist him, he had some very unkind words for me and my failure to rescue him from his “near death” experience.
Of course, the reason I could laugh at his predicament was that by the time he reached Vixen’s stern, I had realized that the fin was, in fact, attached to a porpoise and not a shark. Evidently, it was feeding, so rather than the slowly rising and falling motion that is normal for porpoises, its fin was moving erratically through the water, exactly like a shark.
So Barry gets “man points” for his bravery in the face of certain death, and I suppose I lose “friend points” for being somewhat of a jerk. Oh well, if you can’t have a little fun…
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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