Panic sets in during a boat match.
Four of us were fishing the Lamlash Boat Festival, held on the Isle of Arran, where we were supplied with 12ft and 14ft wooden boats with small Seagull outboards.
It was a beautiful sunny day. The Firth of Clyde was like a sheet of glass, with not a breath of wind. One of the boats had located a shoal of haddock just outside the entrance to Lamlash Bay and this had attracted 14 or 15 other vessels, including us – Bob, Terry, Dick and me.
Suddenly we heard a voice: “What’s that?” Looking towards the Bay, we saw a group of basking sharks coming straight towards us. Everyone pulled in their lines and nobody said a word. Suddenly a boat close to us was rocking wildly, but we couldn’t see anyone in it. Every now and then a leg, arm or head would pop up and go back down.
We found out later that one of the guys on board had panicked at the sight of these huge things moving towards them and wanted to get out. I have no idea where he thought he was going. The other three members of the crew piled on top of him to stop him getting out of the boat.
“I wish one would come a bit closer to us, so I could take a photograph,” said Dick, at which point I noticed that one was moving away from the rest. Being a bit of a clever clogs, I said: “We’ll go after that one; not too close though, and see if you can get your photograph”.
When we got to what I thought was a safe distance from it, we cut the engine. I had an 8mm cine camera and was filming this shark, which was about 20 or so yards away. Looking through the lens, I realised that the huge fin was getting bigger, and muttered: “That’s strange, I haven’t got a zoom lens”.
Suddenly the penny dropped and I realised that the fin was coming straight towards us. Noticing what was happening, Terry grabbed the starter cord for the engine and, after winding it round the top, he pulled it so hard in his panic that the cord flew out of his hand and into the water and promptly sank.
Bob, on seeing this, grabbed the oars and rowed faster than the tiny engine would have pushed us. I still have the cine film from all those years ago of that shark coming towards us.