Thanking your lucky stars

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Shall I tell you about my near-death experience with a saltwater crocodile?

It was the year 2000 BC (Before Children) and Jim and I took a scuba diving holiday in the Solomon Islands. It was heaven.

Except for one day.

The skipper took us to a small island, split by a wedge-shaped crevasse – imagine a jagged sliver missing from a cake. The idea of the dive is you swim along the bottom of the crevasse, then ascend into a lagoon surrounded by rainforest alive with lorikeets; much like the island in Barbie, Island Princess.

Jim is a more experienced diver than me, so he led the way. There wasn’t much room; if I stretched my arms, I could touch the rock on either side. We were in about 10 metres of water – not deep in diving terms and I was enjoying myself – we were a day and a half from any town and a million miles from home.

When we reached the lagoon, Jim stopped, and being the cautious type, looked up before he ascended. Directly above us was a three metre saltwater crocodile, sunning himself on the surface. Apparently our bubbles bounced off its belly. I can’t say for sure; I never saw it. Before I had a chance to look up, Jim was telling me, in underwater sign language, to turn around and get the f*ck out of there. Naturally, I was annoyed – I’d swum all this way and I wanted to see the lorikeets. Jim didn’t want to tell me there was a croc above my head (international diving signal for a crocodile is a chomping motion made with both arms moving in scissors fashion) because he rightly assumed I would panic.

‘F*ck the lorikeets,’ he gesticulated before spinning me around and pushing me back out to sea.


When we were on the boat, limbs and torsos miraculously intact, Jim told me about the crocodile and asked the skipper if they’d seen one in that lagoon before.

‘Yes,’ he drawled, ‘But not lately. We reckoned he’d moved away.’

Moved away? Where to? Hadn’t he left a forwarding address? Bastard.

We then heard about a guest who had actually been chomped by a salty while snorkeling. I thought it was a diver’s tall tale but incredibly, I read the same story in Good Weekend years later.

Scary stuff, huh?  Who knows I may have cheated death today by driving one route instead of another?

Sometimes we’re aware we’ve been lucky, and sometimes we aren’t.

Have you cheated death or disaster? What saved you?

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