Holly Martin, 29, is sailing around the world in her 27-foot-long Grinde sailboat, which she christened the SV Gecko. She left Maine in the fall of 2019, from Round Pond Harbor on the Pemaquid Peninsula. Holly sent this “postcard” by satellite from the South Pacific, to the readers of Maine Women Magazine.
I sight along the length of my spear gun and press the trigger. A watery clack resonates in my ears, and a silver fish spins at the end of my spear. I immediately turn around, scanning in every direction as I kick urgently towards the surface. My head breaks into air and I take a deep breath, simultaneously shooting my arm out of the water to hold the fish aloft. I put my face into the water again and scan below: so far so good.
Spear fishing in the Pacific comes with some additional challenges: sharks. In populated locations, sharks become accustomed to the clack of a spear gun firing, and immediately surge towards the free meal. I’ve learned from locals that the more quickly I bring the fish up above the surface of the water, the less likely I am to be pestered by sharks. I look down again and see a few reef sharks swimming below me. As long as the fish remains out of the water, I’m safe. It’s not unusual here to see a person snorkeling back to shore with one arm sticking out of the water holding a fish on a spear. It’s just another example of how nature adapts. Sharks have lived for over 400 million years in the ocean. Who are we to think we can outsmart them for long?