Gans Baai, Western Cape South Africa – Monday Early Morning
Gordon, a landlubber at heart, was feeling sick to the core. It wasn’t simply the motion of the boat lolling around in the 3ft swell, which didn’t help, but the knowledge that he was in a lot of trouble. Why hadn’t he kept his mouth shut and just gone along with the whole crazy scheme? He cursed himself for the thousandth time, “Shit, I should have known better” he thought.Henk turned to look at the man dressed in a badly sweat stained business shirt and slacks, hands tied, lying helpless in the well of the boat; he was rather looking forward to this morning’s entertainment. A mile away he could see the small harbour at Gans Baai which would be a hive of activity later in the day when the tourists came to get scared by the local attractions. Turning to face the front of the 30ft former commercial fishing boat constructed out of wood and fibre glass, he could see their destination about fifteen minutes ahead. Small waves were breaking between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock the smaller of the two islands. These rocky outcrops provided a permanent home to over 60,000 resident cape fur seals. The smell of guano filled the nostrils of those on board, later in the day under the full glare of the summer sun the smell would become almost overpowering.The weather was pretty unremarkable that morning, the sky was overcast, early teens showing on the boats thermometer; the mid summer sun not yet having done its work and burnt off the grey mantle of cloud that hung over the bay. “Let’s head for the gap in the channel” he called up to the skipper – a member of the Fraternity who could be trusted to keep schtum about the proposed mornings proceedings. He was a good man in Henk’s eyes and another committed believer in the ‘great cause.’“Sure, no problem”“Henk, for pete’s sake we can work this out. It’s really not a problem, I can get back onto London and sort this misunderstanding out.”“Too late for that Gordon. You knew the rules, your bank balance confirms that we kept our side of the bargain, you’re a very foolish man thinking that you could blackmail us. See what happens if you get too greedy, the Fraternity looks after its friends and punishes its enemies”The steady hum of the engine changed its beat as the boat slowed down to a walking pace from the steady 12 knots that it had been making across the open water. “Look, I’ll give you all the money back, you’ll never hear from me again – I’ll take my family and disappear” A slight grin appeared across Henk’s heavy built facial features, at 6ft 2in he was a big man. He was dressed in his prefereed attire of camouflage trousers, army boots and cut off green T shirt. Weighing in at over 18st he’d played a lot of rugby as a boy in the privileged private all white schooling system that he had enjoyed. Growing up in a wealthy Afrikaans family he had been used to the better things in life. Staff to look after the gardens and the inherited farm, a career mapped out in the family business – all good.But over time life had changed, with the departure of Apartheid all of a sudden he was supposed to become acclimatised to treating the blacks as equals. Positive discrimination had led to having to employ non whites in position of influence within the business and what had once been a private by ‘invitation only’ club was now becoming at a frightening pace open to all and frankly that didn’t sit very well with him or many of his peers.No, in his mind things had gone too far, something had to be done. “Gordon, save your breath. You’re past redemption, if I were you I would concentrate on making your peace with God.” With that he gave the defenceless man a solid kick in the midrift on the basis that would stop any further pointless discussion.The boats skipper, Pieter, pointed the ‘Cape Fisher’ into the swell and cut the engine. There was no tide running to speak of and in the light chop he knew an anchor wasn’t required as the boat wouldn’t move far off its current position. Coming out of the cabin he looked across at Henk – “What’s the plan? Shall we put a bit of hor’deuve out there and see what’s around?” Early 50’s he’d leapt at the chance of joining the elite club called the Fraternity. He was not from wealthy stock but was also very proud to be an Afrikaans by birthright .“What have you got in mind?” asked Henk, “I rather thought we might have a bit of a troll and see what we catch?” A keen fisherman he was referring to the process of trailing bait in the water to attract the target fish of the day.“Sure, whatever, but we can’t be out here too long without attracting a bit of attention” Pieter looked to the shore line, he estimated that unless someone had binoculars trained on them they would be fine and pass unnoticed.The pair decided on a combination of both fish attracting approaches – lifting the hapless Gordon up between them Henk got a bait knife and cut deeply into the struggling mans legs. Gordon screamed with pain and begged them to reconsider their chosen course of action. The pair tied a thick rope around the man’s already tightly secured wrists, by this time the prisoner was thrashing violently in desperation knowing full well his likely fate; but all to no avail as he was easily outmuscled and outweighed.In almost a single movement Gordon, the lead analyst from BDS Bank based on Broad Street in the City of London, was unceremoniously deposited over the side of the boat. The coldness of the water took his breath away and he had to kick violently to keep from sinking under the weight of his quickly sodden clothes. The wet clothes, weakened legs due to blood loss all combining with the inability to use his hands made staying afloat for any length of time only a remote possibility. Henk looked down at the drowning man and pulled playfully on the rope, “How’s the water?”Pieter turned to his left and picked up a small dustbin full of blood and offal that he had secured for the days fishing from a slaughterhouse some 33 clicks up the road in Hermanus. Situated to the north west on the main road back towards Cape Town Hermanus is world renowned as a great place to go and watch migrating whales . Lifting the lid he waved the contents under Henk’s nose “Ummm, lovely – fancy some for breakfast?” “Ag man, get that out of my face, smells awful!” “Ag, don’t be so fussy” Taking the loaded bucket to the gunwale Pieter promptly deposited the contents over the side, much of it covering Gordon who was frantically trying to find some respite by holding onto the boat.Returning to the cabin the skipper pushed the throttle on the fishing boat forward a single notch and headed towards shark alley, as the gap between the two islands was more commonly known. Henk played out about 20 yards of rope and watched as it tightened up to the ‘bait” and then began to drag the man from the City along in the wake of the boat. A couple of the local cape fur seals popped their heads up off the starboard bow to have a look at what was going on, they weren’t going to have to wait for long.Gordon was fighting for breath, being dragged by the boat his mouth was continually filling up with salt water and he knew if this went on much longer he was going to drown. His onetime business associates but now recent captors would have been disappointed if a simple matter of drowning was the only fate that was going to befall the man who had come close to scuppering the whole project. The Carcharodon carcharias that picked up the scent of the blood in the water was a big female, she was in short term residence in one of the most prolific mating areas for her breed in the world. The Great White made so famous by Peter Benchley’s ‘Jaws’ can grow to over 20ft and has no known predators, it’s a prehistoric eating machine. This female at 14ft, an awesome specimen, now in the chum trail comprising the slaughterhouse delicacies mixed with Gordon’s blood and urine was moving at pace from underneath the trawled ‘bait’.Gordon probably knew nothing of his untimely demise, he had known when he’d been bundled into the car the night before and deposited in the dawn on the fishing boat that things were not going to end well. He knew well enough what Gans Baai was famous for and once he had hit the water he had simply prayed for a swift conclusion to the anticipated terrible bloody conclusion. He had half expected to see his whole life pass before his eyes and to think about the wife and children that he would be leaving behind. None of that took up his thoughts for the last few moments of his life, his whole consciousness was filled with terror of not knowing what it was like to be eaten alive.The most feared predator of the high seas that had almost singlehandedly put millions of people off going for a quick swim hit the doomed man at some 18 knots. Black soulless eyes rolled back to avoid them being damaged; with her cavernous mouth, lined with razor sharp teeth, open she had came in on a slightly tilted attack path. The 2,400lb Great White ripped through Gordon’s rib cage and lifted him entirely out of the water as though a rag doll. The two men watching from the boat were suitably impressed and delighted in equal measure to have witnessed the attack so up close – one to share with boys at the bar and maybe tell the kids about one day. Though possibly with hindsight they would change the story with regard to what bait had been used, at least for the child friendly version.