25 Nov Savaii – Sharks, Sinking and Panic

I got invited to be the keynote speaker at Vaiola College graduation. It was very nice of them to invite me and I said yes. Without really thinking because they asked me two months ago and December was still a very long way away so I put it on my shelf of things to think about ONE DAY.

And now I have a problem.

Because the graduation is next week. Because Vaiola College is in Savaii. Because I’ve only been to Savaii once – when I was eight years old. Because to get there, you have to go on the ferry.  Because boats make me awfully dreadfully sick.  Because the wide open ocean petrifies me with fear. And because I can’t swim.

I’m well aware that for some people, skipping back and forth to Savaii is ‘no big deal’. That for some people, my freaking out about a one hour boat ride to the next island over – ranks very low on the list of STUFF YOU WANT TO WASTE 20 MINUTES READING ABOUT. So if you’re one of those people rolling your eyes right now, then kindly close your browser and stick your head in the freezer. There’s nuthin to see here. Move along.

Back to my freakout.

At 4am this morning, I woke up with the most awful thought. What if the boat sinks?! I could see it play out so clearly in my mind. The ferry would hit something. Maybe a rogue iceberg? Global warming is real y’know. It would spring a leak. Panic would ensue. Of course there wouldn’t be enough life jackets.  The few they had would go to the elderly, the children (and their mothers). I would end up in the water, vainly battling to dog paddle my way to Savaii, only to weakly sink beneath the waves as I gave up my last desperate breath. But before I checked out to oblivion, a massive shark would rip me to pieces. Slowly. Savoring every bite.

I was giving myself a panic attack just thinking about my ocean demise.

But then, I gave myself a shake. Get a hold of yourself woman!!! I took deep breaths and calmly walked myself through the scenario of horror.

The boat sinks. OhmigoshImGonnaDie! No you won’t. You will grab hold of some floating pieces of wreckage. Some wooden planks. Like in Titanic. You will hang on to those while you wait for rescue.  It’s the South Pacific. The water is warm. Unlike silly Rose, you will even share your makeshift raft with other desperate survivors.

You float around on your stupid pieces of wood and nobody comes to rescue you. You end up in a current halfway to Panama, trying to catch seabirds so you can drink their blood. Or on a tiny uncharted island in the middle of nothing, where you grow a beard and talk to a basketball. And then your husband gets tired of waiting for you to be found so he marries a beautiful 20yr old called Dipsy Lala. She’s so sweet that by the time you come back, five years later – Bella doesn’t even remember who you are. Then, OhmigoshIwillWANTtoDie!!  No. You’re being silly. You have your phone. When the boat goes down, you will call your husband and ask him to please come save you. You will turn on your GPS tracker thingy. You will then sit on your makeshift raft and wait patiently for him to come get you. The man is quite devoted to you. He could probably SWIM to Savaii to get you. If necessary. He won’t want to have to marry a beautiful 20yr old Teletubbie. He will spring into action and move heaven and earth to rescue you. He will shout over the phone, over the sound of rushing water and panicked screams, “I will find you! No matter how far, no matter how long it takes – I will come for you and I will find you!” (Bonus points for whoever knows that movie line…insert *dramatic romantic wistful sigh*right here.)


You’re on your makeshift raft with your phone (Facebooking your adventure), when suddenly, a MASSIVE SHARK rips your leg off. You bleed to death and an entire pack of sharks scrounges and scraps over your body. By the time your husband arrives, all he finds is your glasses, catching diamond sparkles in the sunlight. Stop it. Just stop it. There’s no sharks waiting to eat people from here to Savaii. People canoe and swim and fish there all the time. And nobody’s every been eaten by a shark on their way to the big Island. Besides, there will be plenty of other people in the ocean around you for sharks to choose from. Like delicious children in lifejackets actually IN the water. Much easier to eat than people on rafts.

I was rather pleased with how well I was able to calm myself. ‘You’ve come a long way Lani,’ I congratulated. Because everybody talks to themselves like this, don’t they?! ‘You’re not a prisoner to your paranoia or weakly buffeted by the winds of your (overly) vivid imagination. Oh no. You are rational. Logical. Sensible. That’s why they asked you to be the keynote speaker at the graduation, so you could help inspire the next generation.’

My peace and resolve were disrupted today though. Because I made the mistake of telling the Hot Man and Big Son, about my 4am freakout. I shared how I had successfully eliminated all my RIDICULOUS worries.  “So silly of me, wasn’t it? Ha ha.”

The Hot Man didn’t laugh. He said, “There won’t be any planks of wood for you to hang on to. The boat is made of steel.”

Oh. Well, there’s sure to be some other assorted floatation devices about on board. Like large plastic water bottles! I can hang on to those.

“Water will get in them and you’ll sink,” said Big Son.

“You need to take a life jacket with you,” said the Hot Man.

But I don’t have one!

He shrugged. “Oh well. Better hope it doesn’t sink then.” Which was not reassuring at all.

Big Son then asked, “What are you gonna do about the sharks?”

There’s no sharks out there.

“That’s what you think,” said the Hot Man. “There’s sharks in the harbour and by the wharf. We have to watch out for them when we train. Of course there’s sharks out in the ocean on the way to Savaii.”

See? This is why I don’t like to leave the cave. Dammit. It’s too dangerous out there.

So now I’m back to – Ohmigosh I’m gonna DIE!!!!

In between trying to write an inspiring (rational, logical, sensible) keynote speech.


  • anonymous

    last of the Mohicans? @ movie line quoted. not to worry the lady samoa much like the titanic is renown to be unsinkable. fare well with the trip 🙂

    November 26, 2014 at 12:43 am
  • Juanita

    You will fine….. Go a day earlier before speech day so you can get rid of your sea sick….. The school are looking forward to your attendace. Proud of you. You might fine that you dont get sea sick anymore. Hopefully…. God bless

    November 27, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Post a Comment