Swimming with Sharks


I have a big fish story. But, what does swimming with sharks have to do with genealogy? Everything! Genealogy is tracing one’s line of descent. But memories add spice to merely a name and birth date.
I was in the Army, stationed on an island in the South Pacific. The island was only 2 miles long, ½ a mile wide and 7 ft above sea level. The island was man-made. Made of Coral dredgings, you could look out your room and imagine it was snow. Shorts, Flip Flops, and a Polo Shirt was “Off Duty” Formalwear. The trade winds blew a lazy breeze through the Palm Trees. If you wanted, A/C, you opened the window, heat, close the window. Right down the middle was a landing strip. Now, being on a coral island, in the middle of the Pacific, what else would you do but learn to scuba dive?
Being in the ocean, there are Sharks. Duh! Fortunately, most of the sharks were Greys. They tend not to be very aggressive, well, MOSTLY.
Once I was on a dive with a couple of other divers. Part of the dive equipment is a BC, Buoyancy Compensator. It is similar to a life vest. One has to wear a weight belt as the air tank wants to float. The BC helps to adjust to obtain neutral buoyancy.
I was down about 30 ft when I ran out of air. No problem. I let the other divers know I was out of air and started for the surface. (Now the further down you go, the water pressure increases and the air in your lungs compress. As you ascend, water pressure decreases, and the air in your lungs expands.) Once I started up, the air in my lungs began to expand, and all seemed well, at least until I reached the surface.
Once on the surface, the water had gone from smooth to more than choppy. I started for the island, which was about a couple of hundred yards away. The tank was out of air and became cumbersome, and I began struggling to swim.
ENTER THE SHARK. It was a Grey, and at first, I wasn’t worried, but I was struggling, and it started to circle. At this time, I had two choices. 1. Drop all my dive gear in the ocean or 2. Take a chance of being eaten by a shark. Of course, I chose 2. If I decided on 1, I would have to explain to everybody what happened and have a bunch of people search the ocean for my lost gear. NO! 2 was the only logical choice!
I swam. I am a pretty good swimmer, but with the dive gear and the ruff ocean waves, it was hard to get a breath. I swam, and the shark circled. I swam, and the shark circled… ever closer. It was a Race to the island!
Well, I made it to the island, just barely, the shark was only a couple of lengths behind. When I went to pull myself up over the bulkhead, I activated the CO2 cartridge on my BC. It puffed up like a life vest. I immediately looked around to see if anybody had seen what a KNUCKLEHEAD I was. All I had to do was pop the cartridge, roll over and do the backstroke to the island and the shark would have just swum away.
What does this have to do with Genealogy? What do you think would make a more lasting impression? A simple name and date or a story about almost getting eaten by a shark because I did something foolish?

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