“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat.”

By Judy Berman

Danger lurks on a moonlit beach as a girl romps in the water.

The teen ventures in while another partygoer lies drunk on the beach. Moments later, she screams when she’s attacked in the water. An unseen force drags her under, and she is gone. Later, her remains wash ashore.

The villain: a great white shark. Sharks have had a lot of bad PR ever since “Jaws” first hit the movie theaters in 1975.

Note to spring-breakers, tourists and snowbirds: You’re more likely to be struck by lightning in Florida than become shark bait while surfing or swimming.

Some statistics to consider:

  • Florida was known as “Lightning Capital of the World.” NASA has recently given that distinction to Rwanda, Africa. “With more deaths and injuries than all other states combined, Florida ranks as the #1 target for public safety and lightning awareness campaigns,” states weather.about.com website.
  • “Florida led the nation again last year with 11 of 29 shark attacks. None were fatal. Worldwide, there were 75 shark attacks; 12 of them were fatal, the most since 1993,” according to TCPalm’s web site on Feb. 25th.

Still, I’m not reassured. There have been three shark attacks in Florida this month – one at Playalinda Beach on March 4th and two at New Smyrna Beach on March 14th. All three teen surf riders were injured, but are OK after the sharks’ bites.

The only shark adventure I’m after would be on celluloid or digitally. In this case, “Bruce,” the name given to the mechanical shark in “Jaws,” is the only kind I’d care to meet up with.

We don’t see “Bruce” for most of the movie. That’s because they had trouble getting the mechanical beast to function as it should. If I were to compare this movie to an Alfred Hitchcock film, it would be “Psycho.”

We know something bad is about to happen to Janet Leigh in the shower scene. We can see some sort of menace beyond the shower curtain and know she can’t hear us scream that she’s in danger.

It’s much the same in “Jaws,” when the theme music plays … “dun-dun! dun-dun! “dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun.” Something awful is about to happen, and we’re powerless to warn those in the water.

We’re scared wondering when it will strike again.

This film has captured our family like few others have. We’ve had Jaws-themed birthday cakes, Jaws movie marathons and Shark Week extravaganzas. This, at the request of our youngest daughter, Jenn, who’s had a lifelong love affair with sharks.

It began with this movie. Director Steven Spielberg nailed this when he deviated from the novel, and added the right touch of terror and humor.

The scene that captures that best is when Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) got an up-close look at “Bruce.” He’s on a boat with fisherman, Sam Quint (played by Robert Shaw), who is determined to kill the shark, and oceanographer Matt Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss).

As Brody backs away from the shark and into the boat, he tells Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

At one point, Scheider tells Dreyfuss: “I used to hate the water.” Dreyfuss: “I can’t imagine why.”

Even though I live near the ocean, I rarely venture near the frothy waves. In my mind, I hear … dun-dun! dun-dun! That’s all I need. I quickly dive back onto my blanket and grab a book – anything but “Jaws.”


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Main photo of shark silhouette in the Maldives, taken Oct. 29, 2003 by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shark_Silhouette.jpg

* Family photo of Jenn’s Jaws’ themed birthday cake in 2011 which was designed by her sister, Danielle. Yup, Ernie’s gonna need a bigger boat.

* video clip of Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) backing away and telling fisherman, Sam Quint (Robert Shaw): “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat,” from “Jaws” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gciFoEbOA8

* Jaws’ theme song: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=jaws+theme+song&view=detail&mid=BFF2316080871FFC7F93BFF2316080871FFC7F93&first=0&FORM=LKVR7

** MSNBC story about a shark attack: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/15/10701089-like-jaws-girl-pulled-under-by-shark-twice

** updated MSNBC story about shark attacks: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/46774631#46774631

  1. Hmm, I’ve surfed 100’s of times on the west coast. And saw a hammerhead in a wave one time. I quickly went in then. My youngest got bitten by a sting ray this past summer – at age 22. That’s one of the most painful bites to experience in nature, from what we found out.

    I’m not a fan of sharks, but as you mention, the probability is very low. Great post.

    1. The only dangerous thing I’ve seen at the beach is the Portuguese Man-of-war (a sting ray ?). They look like light blue Ziploc baggies. But as you mentioned, their long-dangling tenacles can deliver a very painful sting even after they’ve been washed up on the beach. Sorry to hear you son ran into a sting ray.

  2. I am surprised you did not share the fact that we had Jaws on my 2nd birthday cake as well. I am with you though, I would prefer seeing the sharks on television or behind a really thick piece of plexi glass at Sea World then go in the ocean for an up close and personal visit.
    You should also note that there are great white sharks in Africa that can leap out of the water and are dubbed “Air Jaws”, where no matter how big the boat is I won’t be venturing in those waters anytime soon.
    Good story!

    1. Wow! Didn’t know about “Air Jaws.” That’s pretty scary. Glad you liked the story. I didn’t mention the Jaws image (and Bert and Ernie) on your 2nd birthday cake because then folks would know how truly warped our family is. Oopsie! Guess the shark’s out of the bag now. 🙂

  3. Lol, yes it is one of the many episodes I have watched during Shark Week,,,it is quite impressive actually, although the guy taking the pictures is a little too close for my comfort.

  4. I have a little rule I like to follow: I swim in a pool and I let Mother Nature’s creatures have the whole ocean to themselves. I love to lay under a palm tree on the beach, but I’m not a fan of swimming in the ocean.

    P.S. LOVE the birthday cake!

  5. I’m with you, Paprika. I used to dunk my tootsies in a stream with wild abandon up north. Here, I’m afraid an alligator is lurking, or a shark is just waiting for me to venture out. Nah!
    Our daughter, Jenn, wept with joy when she saw her birthday cake last year. She’d wanted us to recreate the one she had for her 2nd birthday. Her sister, Danielle, really got creative. It was a big hit. Thanks for your comments.

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