Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Bob Marley Beach, Shark-Viewing & And Surfing

Published:Sunday | April 3, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Photo by Joan Williams Macca Beach, St Thomas
Two female contestants pose with their surfboards
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So spine-chilling have been the tales I have heard of sharks that the opportunity to see one up-close was gripping.

I was on my way to Bob Marley Beach one Saturday morning with The Fun & Thrills Adventure Club for breakfast and a swim. The plan was to, afterwards, cycle onwards to Macca Beach in Yallahs to watch the international surfing competition.

On turning into the entrance road to the beach, we encountered a man pushing a wheelbarrow with a shark in it. The shark was about 6 feet long with a flat, broad head, and I actually felt sorry for the unfortunate creature that was still breathing.

The fisherman said this was a harmless nurse shark, and opened its mouth to show us how small the teeth were. Down the throat, you could actually see the fish that the shark had stolen from the fisherman's pot. I never thought I could feel sorry for a shark, but I did.

This shark did not have the wicked-looking teeth like you see in the Jaws movie, and when the fisherman told me the fate of the helpless shark was to be sold to a guard company to feed their guard dogs, it almost broke my heart. I guess that's the penalty for praedial larceny at sea!

People often ask me, "Where in St Ann is Bob Marley Beach?". Unfortunately, they had jumped to the conclusion because ... . "Well, I know Bob was born in St Ann so Bob Marley Beach must also be in St Ann too, right?" But oh no! Bob Marley Beach is right here in St Andrew at the southeastern edge of the parish a few chains beyond Bull Bay Police Station. The beach is named in Bob's honour because the fishermen there say he used to go there a lot and hang out with them.

Surprised

I am always surprised that this beach is not full of people because it does have the recipe for being popular - nice, clear, clean water that gets deeper gently, a large and beautiful sandy beach, good view, changing rooms with showers and a bar. I guess that most people are just unaware of it.

Bob Marley Beach is a popular venue for our riders who regularly cycle there to swim, eat and enjoy great camaraderie. This is an easy ride as it is 70 per cent downhill and the remainder flat. We have even cycled there in the eveningtime to party and watch the sun go down 'into the sea'.

Fishermen also operate from this nice, secluded beach and supply their catch to swimmers and other visitors. Although the sand is dark coloured, the water is the clearest and least polluted of any beach anywhere near the Corporate Area.

Our final destination on the 'shark day' was Macca Beach in Yallahs to watch the international surfing competition, so we did not tarry here for long.

At Macca Beach, our expert young Jamaican surfers were hosting competitors from abroad for the fourth year.

Our waves may not match those in Hawaii or California, but the fact that our young surfers are completely self-taught on the rough seas off St Thomas and many made their first surfboards is a great achievement, in my book.

These surfing competitions are fairly well publicised, but the sport has not yet seized the Jamaican imagination. So, despite the great talent on show here, every time we attend, vendors seem to outnumber spectators.

Maybe subsequent tournaments will be better supported because surfing can be developed into a great opportunity for our eager and talented youngsters. We have no shortage of waves for them to practise, particularly in eastern Jamaica, and you know that in every sport that our young people pick up, they eventually become world leaders.

Joan Williams, moderator of Joan Williams Online broadcasting on Power 106, describes herself as an addict to the Jamaican outdoors. A foundation member of The Fun and Thrills Adventure Club, she explores the island at every given opportunity, cycling, hiking & swimming with the group, family and anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she published Tour Jamaica with the 4th edition now an e-book available at http://www.amazon.com/Tour-Jamaica-Joan-Williams-ebook/dp/B00EJWCSHS/ref. Contact: gratestj@gmail.com