“Sharks, they only bite when you touch their private parts”

50 First Dates

If you know someone who enjoys any type of ocean activity, chances are they have said something along the lines of “sharks don’t want to hurt you! They aren’t interested in humans!”. I also adopted this mantra and used it to soothe my worried soul before every plunge into the open ocean. I used it so much that the fear actually started to dissipate! I swam with white tip reef sharks and thought “aw, they’re just like puppies!” I once jumped off the boat into the water, only to discover a shark swimming beneath me. Now, I didn’t stay in the water long enough after seeing said shark to identify what kind it was, but I still logged the experience in my subconscious as proof that sharks really aren’t interested in humans.

Well, from personal experience… you can convince yourself all you want that sharks are “cool” and not scary, but when you come face to face with one of the most vicious predators in the sea, you will shit your wetsuit. Possibly metaphorically, possibly not.

Let me tell you about our experience flipping our mooring chain.

Every 2-3 years it is advised to flip your mooring chain, as the chain in the bottom is constantly being dragged around the ocean floor, wearing it down. Flipping the chain is a 3 step process.

Step 1: Count the links from the top shackle to where the chain is shackled at the bottom around the mooring block – this way you will know the exact length to re-shackle the chain once flipped.

Step 2: Dig the chain out from under the 3500lb mooring block so it’s mobile.

Step 3: Flip the chain, re-attach it at the top, count down the exact amount of links, zip-tie the link (in our case it was the 160th link), wrap the chain around the block, then refasten the end of the chain at the zip tie using a shackle.

Our story begins with step 2.

After descending down to our mooring block, I started counting the links one by one and Austin jumped into the second step unlodging the chain. After counting out 160 links, I look up to find myself engulfed in a HUGE cloud of sand created by the pushing, pulling, dragging, and digging Austin was doing to get the chain free. I don’t like being in 40ft of water with no visibility, so I backed up and hung out from a distance. I had time to kill, so I was just looking around admiring the sea life and the neverending expanse of blue ocean.

Then I saw a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye.

It took me a moment to comprehend the scene playing out in front of me, but then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was looking directly at a Tiger Shark and it was headed straight towards the large cloud of sand and debris, straight for the love of my life.

I was paralyzed for a solid 5 seconds while my fight and flight instincts battled it out – but I knew either way I needed to move, now. So I started swimming as fast as I could towards Austin. I lost track of the shark as soon as I started swimming. I set my sight and made a beeline for Austin. I lost all sense of self-preservation and fear and swam like our lives depended on it. Austin couldn’t see me coming through the sand, so I grabbed his tank, flipped him around, made the sign for shark, and we made the ascent.

You might think this is where our story ends. But you would be wrong! Any sane person might get out at this point, but if you have been reading my blog at all you probably have gathered.. we are not exactly sane. As soon as we surfaced Austin turned to me and asks in an infuriatingly calm manner, “Well, what type of shark was it?” to which I replied, “I don’t know, the kind with sharp teeth!?” He was not phased.

We spent 4 more hours in the water after that.

Before going back down I was given a new role – defender of the crew.

For the majority of the next 4 hours underwater, I was positioned with my back to Austin, wielding the largest wrench we could get our hands on. Everywhere he went, my wrench and I followed. I had it over my head ready to strike at any given moment… because obviously, an angry mechanic would ward off the shark! Could I realistically fend off a shark with a wrench if it decided to attack? No. But at least I’d die trying!

In all seriousness, though, many divers have had close encounters with sharks and were able to redirect them by just putting their hand or an object out and pushing the shark’s nose in a different direction. This is not in the case of a shark intent on attacking, just if the shark is interested in you and comes too close for comfort. There are tons of incredible youtube videos of this happening- I highly recommend checking them out!

The only example I can think of to adequately describe my initial fear is this: Imagine you are walking to your car alone at night. The parking lot is empty. As you are unlocking your door you see a shadow, you straighten up to look, and there is someone standing right next to you with a gun. Can you imagine the feeling of your stomach dropping and fear balling up in your throat? That is the feeling I got. I was terrified and defenseless. But you know what? I did it. I faced my fears and I did the darn thing.

SVZV is now safely attached to her mooring and I can casually say, “Yeah, I’ve fought off a shark. No big deal”

Before the shark encounter.. not a care in the world

Mooring? More Things.

When we purchased SVZV she came with a registered mooring. To legally have a mooring you have to get a mooring permit, have your mooring plans surveyed and approved by an engineer, then you build it and register the boat/mooring with the harbor. We were incredibly lucky that part of the hard work was already done for us and even luckier to have a mooring. Permit approvals in Hawaii are few and far in between. Not only did we purchase a floating home, we purchased a permanent place to keep it. Sail the world then come home to the beaches of Maui? Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

What we purchased physically was a 4000lb cement block on the ocean floor, location TBD. I’ll walk you through the steps we took to build and secure our mooring. Although it all seems pretty clear and mapped out, do remember this took us around 6 months.

*Disclaimer: In this article, usually when I say “us”, that truly means “mostly Austin”. I was there every step of the way for moral support and sometimes stepping in to help, but this was a major learning experience for me. I didn’t even know what a mooring was before buying SVZV, so Austin not only had to lead the charge but he had to teach me along the way. So, if you’re reading this Captain, you freaking rock.

Step 1: Move The Block

This is actually the last step we completed. There was so much planning and organizing that went into this, we needed at least a week after every attempt to regroup and recharge. Let me break this step down into smaller steps so you can truly understand how painstaking this was for us.

  1. Locate mooring block. This took two days and over 8 hours of hunting. For weeks we would bring snorkel masks in our dry bags and look at any suspicious square object we saw on our way into the boat ramp. Due to rough currents or, more likely, someone moving our block for *unconfirmed* reasons, our block was nowhere near its registered location.
  2. Acquire gear to move block. Lift Bags: Our mooring block is ~4000lbs and ended up requiring 5000lbs worth of lift bags. We had to borrow 5 bags total from 3 different people. These bags were fairly large and heavy, making it difficult to store and transport them. On each attempt (oh yes, there were multiple), they had to be hauled from the car or SVZV and loaded into the dingy for every attempt. Skiff: This was a job The Squid simply wasn’t cur our for. The dive gear alone would have sunk the dingy, let alone the extra body, the loft bags, the tools, and all of the extra line. It also isn’t nearly powerful enough for the job. When that gigantic cement block comes shooting up to the surface of the water you want something strong enough to pull it in the correct direction. The force easily could have sunk the Squid. Luckily, Austin’s company has a powerful skiff we are able to borrow. To use the skiff we have to drive to his bosses house, load the skiff onto a trailer, borrow the truck the trailer is attached to, wash off the trailer, then bring the skiff back clean once we’re finished. This is time consuming. This makes me want to pull my hair out. Dive gear: To use the lift bags, two people needed to dive down to the block to attach the lift bags and fill them with air. This required, roughly: 6 air tanks, 2 wetsuits, 2 regs, and 2 BCDs, all of which had to be borrowed/ rented then returned after returning the skiff. Usually to multiple places. Divers/Drivers: Like I mentioned above, we needed two divers to move the block. We also needed one person to drive the skiff. That means each attempt we had to ask at least one person for help. We tried a total of 6 times. Yes you read that right, 6. The winning combination was Austin and me in the water with someone helping drive the skiff. For us to be able to do this we had to get scuba certified first. That ended up being a life changing experience for me but, cmon, could it have been anymore of an involved process? Could anything have been simple?
  3. Move The Damn Block. This part is much easier said than done. Like I said above, this took a total of 6 attempts. 6 times waking up early to bring the skiff to the boat ramp. 6 days sitting in the unforgiving sun. Loading and unloading the skiff with heavy dive tanks and lift bags 6 times. 5 times being defeated. The final round, triumph.

Our 6th and final dive was the first time Austin and I dove down together to try and lift the block. The symbolism of us being able to finally accomplish it wasn’t lost on me. It made victory even sweeter. Being 45ft underwater and watching as Austin filled the 5th and final bag with air was a surreal experience. The block had been buried deep in the sand and we weren’t sure if it would budge. This time we weren’t taking no for an answer. After filling all five bags to capacity, as if it had suddenly grown exhausted, the sand slowly released its hold and the block started to rise.

The ocean went dark as the 4000lb cement slab rose above our heads blocking the sun. Sand, barnacles, debris, and seaweed started raining down as the block rose faster and faster. I had never seen a sight like it. When the block finally bobbed at the top, we surfaced shortly after. The exhilarating rush of adrenaline powered me through the next few hours until we finally let the air out of the lift bags and let our kids mooring block sink into its new home.

Step 2: Buy The Gear

On Maui there is only one marine supply store that carries the heavy duty gear we needed to asssmble our mooring. It’s ~45 minute drive away. We made that trip at least 5 times and spent a total of $2100 on everything. Anyone ever told you what boat stands for? Bring Out Another Thousand.

To assemble our mooring we needed:

  • 6x 3/4” shackles
  • 1x 5/8” shackle
  • 80ft 5/8” long link galvanized chain
  • 3x 1 1/8” heavy duty galvanized thimble
  • 1x 1” swivel
  • 35ft 1 1/2” Blue Steel
  • 1x buoy 27in diameter

3. Assemble The Mooring

One one surprisingly brisk 85 degree afternoon, we loaded up the back of Austin’s Trail Blazer with hundreds of pounds of chain and gear, drove it to an empty corner of a Safeway parking lot, laid everything out on the grass, and got to connecting the pieces.

This is roughly the setup of our mooring. Some structural/material differences.

Step 4: Attach Gear To The Block

This part was pretty straightforward. We had to rent dive gear and tanks, again, which was a pain. We also had to borrow the company skiff again to transport the chain to the block. You know how much I love the process of getting the company skiff/ returning it! One we got those two things out of the way, it was a matter of diving down, attaching the chain to the block and securing it with seizing wire. This took two dives to complete. About an hour and a half in the water.

Step 5: Crack Open A Beer

Because you deserve it.


It’s hard to believe that two years ago I had never set foot on a sailboat. I had only been on three ferry’s in my life and didn’t know the first thing about sailing. I couldn’t have identified port from starboard or bow from stern.

Fast forward to today; my boyfriend, Austin, and I dove down and lifted a 4000lb mooring block off of the ocean floor using 5000lb of lift bags. In 6 months I have learned and grown more than I could have imagined. I have gained so many stories, experiences, and memories and we haven’t even started sailing.

I’ve had the desire to start a blog for a long time. For years I tried out tons of different hobbies and activities, just to see if I enjoyed one enough to do it consistently and write about it. I’ve always felt that there is nothing interesting about me and I would have to find something people would be interested in. When we attached our boat to the mooring for the first time it hit me: I already have it.