Facing Sharks, Jellyfish And Guns From Kauai To Niihau

Facing Sharks, Jellyfish And Guns From Kauai To Niihau

Quinn Carver, Bill Goding, Brian Denaro and Jen Schumacher swam 17 miles from Kauai to Niihau, but their swim was punctuated with action rarely seen in marathon swimming world.

First, there were sharks.

Jen explained, “[Escort boat] Captain Don barked at us to get in close to the boat and stay there. He told us that he wanted us to be close for the feedings so as to keep track of where we all were, I decided I’d wait until after the swim to ask again. It turns out, a large shark had swum up to Brain’s feet.”

“I was glad we were not told during the swim

Then there were jellyfish.

We were hitting jellyfish all over the place. [They[ zapped us and soon I did not have a single limb that had not gotten hit. I also noticed tiny thin purple strings that clung to my arms, stinging and leaving perfectly straight red lines on my skin.”

There there were more sharks.

During our second 45-minute stretch, I saw a big shark swimming about 30 feet below us. I lifted my head while swimming and asked my mom to stay by my side (we had a Shark Shield attached to her kayak). She was experiencing difficulties in her tiny kayak, so I slowed down to be near her and the shield. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a potentially dangerous shark in the water. We later learned it was a Galapagos shark; typically non-threatening but still something to be very cautious about. The shark came up about 10 more feet to check us out, and swam below us in our direction for about 5 minutes before leaving.”

Escort kayaker Jeff Kozlovich said, “There were some nervous times with the sharks , but they seemed curious and not aggressive so we let everyone keep swimming. The toughest part for me was keeping them all together. They constantly wanted to swim off in their own directions.”

Then there were more jellyfish.

All of the sudden, my face, arms, and legs were covered in the most painful series of stings I have ever received. I screamed and frantically tried to escape the area where I was being stung. At the boat, my screams turned to sobs. Everything still hurt – everywhere.”

Towards the end, there was huge 6-8 foot waves pounding the surf at the shore’s edge. Quinn, an experienced surfer and swimmer, got to shore in 9 hours 56 minutes, “Bill, Brian and I touched the bottom with our feet, in as shallow water as we could safely get to, and called it a success”, said Jen. “Not official in terms of English Channel rules, but we completed the crossing.”

Jeff recalled, “Big surf pounding over sharp rocks gave little time to enjoy their success. Jen, Brian and Bill managed to touch a few rocks on Niihau before scrambling back to the boat.”

But the waves were not the only obstacle to finishing.

From Jeff‘s perspective on the kayak, “Quinn crawled over the rocks and up the sand where he was greeted by a woman with a camera and a man with a gun and was told to leave.” Jen explained, “After exploring the shore, two Niihauans chased Quinn back in the water with a camera and rifle. So, needless to say, between the rifle and dangerous conditions, the rest of us decided to touch the bottom where we were and call it a day.”

Photos of the crossing is here.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones