A month went by and one by one we started talking about what our plans were to go out again, to find the chest. We got together and chartered a boat to take our smaller group out. The seas to the Farallons can be treacherous; that’s why wrecks are there. We spent two rough days trying to rediscover the area where the others found the amphora. With seas picking up we pulled anchor on the second day and headed for home empty-handed. We made 13 trips looking for the mystery location where the amphora were found and the reported site of the chest. But sand had covered the opening to what could have been an old ship. Never did find anything. Then I purchased a converted double-ended lifeboat equipped with a DA Buda diesel and a small cabin. A very seaworthy boat, small, 26-feet long, but adequate space for four to five divers and numerous tanks. It was fine to travel to the Farallon Islands. I also owned a 12-man UDT rubber boat. Our normal trip to the islands was to leave Richmond around 10:00 PM at night, towing the rubber raft. A four-hour trip for my boat, getting there early morning, allowing for a couple of hours of sleep prior to our first dive. We always anchored in Fisherman’s Bay; this was protected most of the time by prevailing winds and currents. It’s a habitat for the hundreds of sea lions and elephant seals. And, we found out, the lurking White sharks.
On the last trip we made with this small boat we arrived at the islands under fog. The sea conditions were picking up and I was concerned that we could slip anchor at night and wind up on shore. So I chose to move out of the cove and tie up to the main buoy on the south end of the main island. That was a very large buoy used by the Coast Guard and anchored by chain to a thirty-ton cement block on the ocean floor. I put out our anchor and tied the stern off to the buoy. Our little boat was like a cork in a rolling sea, five of us were wedged into this small cabin. During the early morning, the seas calmed, and we woke to discover that our anchor had broken during the night, but we were still tied to the buoy. We saw another boat on the horizon. We recognized the other boat as being from Sausalito and it had a group of divers on board. We suited up and made our first dive. The water was exceptionally clear. We were diving on a solid granite ocean floor, a good number of fish in the water. On surfacing we saw that the other boat had pulled anchor and moved past us to the small island south of the main island. We noticed that the divers had spear guns and this was a concern. They anchored and were preparing to make a dive. We were starting to get ready for our second dive, I told everyone then to be careful and be in eye contact with others. During our second dive, I was swimming along the edge of a shelf at 90 feet. At one point I swam out over the edge to look down. Below me was a Great White shark… so large his dorsal fin seemed to list to one side. Must have been nearly 20 feet long. I immediately backed onto the shelf like a schmoo looking for the other divers. When I came in contact visually, I motioned that we were to ascend to the boat “now”. We didn’t really have shark signals; the only signal was to go up. When we got onboard, the other boat was gone. It was strange… how did this boat pull anchor and leave so quickly? I told the guys about the big shark. They laughed. I pulled out a bottle of whiskey and said, “We’re not diving again today!”
We had no radio on board and the compass worked some of the time. It was our practice to pull up a crab pot on the way home, fill the boat with enough for a good neighborhood feed, and head for port. No exception this trip. Pulling into the harbor, I noticed more lights than normal. Then we saw a large group of people on the end of the wharf. As we approached they yelled, “Is everyone OK, who was hit by the shark?” I didn’t need the harbormaster to see the hundred or so crabs on board so I yelled that all was okay. We off-loaded the crabs under the cover of darkness and headed for home. The following morning we learned that one of the divers on board the other boat was attacked by a Great White on the second dive and it took over six hundred stitches to sew him up. He was in the hospital for six months. I suspect that the shark that swam under me was the one that attacked this diver. This was the second diver in two years to be hit by a White shark at the Farallons. Leroy French was severely attacked the year prior and Al Giddings, his partner, pulled Leroy back to the boat and saved his life. We made a few more trips to the Farallons, for fishing and a few dives, a great place for diving but we had our fill and it was time to move onto other adventurers. On the way back in one time, Dewey and I struck up a conversation and he told me about his shark experiences diving in the Tuamotu Islands, specifically Rangiroa and diving the pass. Dewey, an ex-naval officer, had dove all over the world. He was one of the first divers to dive Bikini after the atom bomb tests and had spent most of the last three years diving the south pacific including the Tuamotu Archipelago. His zeal for exotic diving would affect both us profoundly in the near future.