Updated: Oct 21, 2020
I won’t lie – I don’t like water.
I don’t mean gentle babbling brooks or pretty little ponds of course, where the worst you are likely to encounter is a tiny stickleback or an angry mallard, nor do I mean the stuff that comes out of taps. I mean large, dark, foreboding bodies of water that could contain everything from huge man-eating, tentacled monstrosities from the depths of hell to things with more rows of teeth than is strictly reasonable.
I know these things live down there because YouTube says they do. Honestly, all you have to do is type in the word ‘Sea’ and the screen becomes filled with film after film about why you shouldn’t go near it. ‘Killer shark encounter’; ‘Creatures from the abyss’; ‘Dark encounters in the ocean’ or even 'Killer shark creatures from the dark abyss'; these are just a few of the horror shows that await the person silly enough to enter the black waters which we are surrounded by.
I am constantly amazed by those people who do, though. From surf-boarders who glibly drift around on a small piece of fibreglass, legs dangling invitingly to anything that wants a limb for dinner to those scientists who happily shut themselves into tiny spheres and descend far down to actively search out these nightmares of nature.
Hardly a day goes by without a scientist popping up somewhere to wax lyrical about a new type of large octopus they’ve discovered, even when it’s got tentacles wider than their sub upon which it’s affixed an evil eye.
And it’s not just tentacles. Big fish frighten me too. Sharks, it has been said, are a necessary part of the ecosystem and an important contributor to the general health of our oceans.
Let me be clear about this:
Sharks are huge and terrifying animals which exist only to hunt down people and chew them in half.
The same goes for the aptly-named Killer whales and probably dolphins too. Oh they may act cute and squeaky but just you wait ‘till you’re floating off by yourself far from land ‘cos that high-pitched noise erupting all around you probably means ‘Hey look, this sucker thinks we’ve come to rescue him! Which bit do you want first, guys?’
And have you noticed that no matter the species, whales, killer sharks, dolphins, they smile all the time? Yep, there’s a reason for this...
So no, I’m sorry. The sea is big, dark and quite frankly scares me. So do lakes, lochs, rivers and canals. Because if the creatures don’t get you, the currents will – dragging you out and sucking you down to the awaiting denizens. The same goes for storms. What starts off as a moderate breeze on land quickly turns into a maelstrom as soon as it hits water which is capable of turning one’s boat into so much driftwood.
But I’m afraid your ordeal is not yet over, because if having survived the storm at sea, avoided Flipper and his mates and death by drowning, the final thing that will get you is the cold.
They say that your survival time in northern seas is about 15 minutes before hypothermia sets in.
They are wrong, as I can attest from an earlier post about swimming in Scottish lochs, and it is actually about 15 seconds. Cold water can strip your body of heat faster than the taxmen can strip your bank account. And once in the heady throes of hypothermia-induced unconsciousness, my friend, those killer sharks won’t be circling anymore but will be treating your body like a human Popsicle.
Sir David Attenborough once said: ‘I'd like to see the giant squid. Nobody has ever seen one. I could tell you people who have spent thousands and thousands of pounds trying to see giant squid. I mean, we know they exist because we have seen dead ones. But I have never seen a living one. Nor has anybody else.’
But believe me Sir Attenborough, they’re out there! So I would like to make a proposal, one that will at a stroke enable anyone to see what’s in the deep, cure the problem of rising sea levels and drastically reduce your likelihood of drowning.
Drain the whole darned lot...
Author's note: "This is meant to be a light-hearted and amusing discourse on the merits of not swimming in shark-infested waters. It is not actually intended to promote shark fishing, giant-squid bashing or blowing up dolphins.