by Brandon Butler
Life-and-death in the outdoors with Tom Stienstra 12/9/2020

Tom Stienstra for the San Francisco Chronicle recounts just ten of his life-and-death moments in the outdoors. Here’s the one about a shark:

On my boat, a 20-foot Wellcraft, I’d cruised near the big cove on the west side of the Southeast Farallon Island, when we saw a giant shark, which we called Ol’ Whitey, take a sea lion right out of the surf and bite it in half like a dog with a bone. An hour later, a 19-footer, four feet across at the shoulders, pulled up alongside my boat, and with the big black eye on the left side of his head, looked me over as if sizing up its next meal.

It petrified me like nothing I have ever felt. That big shark was wired from a million years of evolution to eat me.

After that, I had nightmares about sharks, mainly an image of that big black eye sizing me up. My fishing buddy Abe Cuanang told me he had a similar encounter and similar nightmares.

Well, I sold my boat in the Delta, moved to the mountains. After hiking about 250 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, the nightmares stopped.

I wonder how many years after that the shark dreamt of Tom.