“Your’re gonna need a bigger boat”

And I’m not talking about trading in my Sabre 28′ for a Pearson 34’…though an  extra six feet would make all of the difference on our two-week trip up the Maine coast. Always a thought I suppose.

No, I’m talking about one of the greatest lines in movie history, delivered flawlessly by a terrified Roy Scheider. Oh, it’s such an awesome scene! Take a few seconds to refresh your memory. It’s a classic, from a timeless film: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Timeless, because every year we try to sit down and watch this movie as a family, and every year we get about twenty minutes in before pulling the plug on the idea. It has become a family tradition during Shark Week...to almost watch Jaws. We usually pass on St. Patty’s Day, forget Cinco De Mayo, lazily throw out plastic eggs at the last-minute for Easter, and this year as you know, we bagged on the Fourth of July fireworks. But we never miss Shark Week!

I can’t remember how old I was when I first saw Jaws, but I can confidently say that it scared the shit out of me. The movie did, but the whole fear of sharks on open water never took root…until much later in life. I grew up in northwest Indiana, and saw the beach maybe four times a year. Lake Michigan. No sharks in fresh water, so I never really connected with this fear. My wife grew up in Buffalo, and probably had the same experience. Terrifying movie, but who cares really? Right?

I started to develop a fear of the open water during my brief stint in SEAL training, at the BUD/S compound in Coronado. More specifically, during open ocean training. I remember paddling exhausted, well past the surf line, and seeing a four-foot long shark break the surface right next to our rubber boat. It panicked four sturdy SEAL students, including myself, in broad daylight. I remember saying to myself something along the lines of “Son of a bitch! We swim out here too!” From that point forward, I wasn’t very keen on the idea of swimming off the Coronado beaches as a BUD/S trainee, I didn’t even like splashing around inside of the surf line. Remember what you learned watching Jaws! Most attacks occur in under two feet of water, less than ten feet from the shoreline. I think I’ve heard this fact reinforced on The Today Show, so it must be true.

I sat down yesterday, with a little spare time on my hands to finish this blog post. Nobody was home, so I put Jaws back on. I didn’t get much writing done. I love that movie. The characters are fantastic, the music is unforgettable…the whole concept is sheer genius. I never really payed too much attention to the setting until yesterday, and now I know why my wife gave me “the look” Sunday night, as we started watching. The opening scene is scary enough, but it wasn’t until a little later that we both had that gut reaction to turn the movie off. I finally know why.

The setting looked way too close to the places we visit in our sail boat! Holy crap they look the same.

Quaint islands and seaside towns. Calm, uncrowded beaches…the beach at Amity Island looked like any of the beaches we visit within 5 minutes of our house. We decided that if we ever want the kids to jump off the side of our sailboat into strange waters, this was not the best movie to show them. To confirm out decision, nobody put up a fight…and these kids can fight if they don’t agree.

I took theses pictures at various stops. You might recognize them. My daughter is in the water at Diamond Cove, a popular island stop not too far from our marina. These are the memories I’d like the kids to have. Fun in the water. Let me worry about the sharks…and I worry, you should see how fast I get out after diving headfirst into the water to cool off. Irrational, but I’ve seen Jaws too many times.

In case anyone is interested, our next family movie is Poltergeist…another classic! I’m actually not kidding.  Maybe they won’t want to watch TV after seeing it…can’t be a bad thing, right? “There here.” I can’t wait…and I’ll never go in the basement again. Damn these movies!

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series: http://martinkingauthor.com/blog/7094550076

6 Comments

Filed under fiction writing, Jaws, Maine, Military, Navy, new england, sailing, SEAL

6 responses to ““Your’re gonna need a bigger boat”

  1. Bernie

    I’m such a fan of that movie and that scene that my husband once bought me a t-shirt that said “you’re going to need a bigger boat.” We were once swimming on a lovely beach in Australia with our daughter-in-law, a native Aussie. Enchanted by the seals swimming near us, we commented on them. She casually informed us that where there were seals ,there were probably sharks. Swim shortened.

    • I need to find a shirt like that. Took me a while to figure the seal connection. I was out at San Clemente, dipping into the water looking to snag some lobsters, when the Navy Chief watching me pointed out to some seals on a grouping of distant rocks…he did the same thing, but took it a step further. He informed me that this was a known Great White feeding ground because of the seals…I got out pretty fast…and gave him my patented “WTF did you let me swim here?” Answer-Really wanted some lobster.

  2. I can so clearly remember when the movie came out, the shock that it had on the movie-going public, the way it changed the perception of the kind of fear that movies could evoke … the vast change in story delivery that followed in it’s ‘wake.’ The horror genre would be forever changed from cheap makeup theatrics to the kind of terrifying urban reality that actually touched the life of the movie goer.

    And yet I think Jaws, and the movies like it, were an inevitable result from the times … the mid-70s were an awakening from many things.

    • I think you’re right. I was young when Jaws came out, but I remember a slew of movies that came out in the early eighties, which changed the horror genre. We weren’t allowed to watch most of them, for a while, but when the finally popped up on VHS, nothing could stop us. I never appreciated the genius of Jaws until recently. The whole movie is just incredible. From the mayor of Amity Island, who was as slick, and possibly more evil than the shark…to Richard Dreyfuss, who was hilarious throughout the film. I agree that it was a shift…and at some point the shift was lost in the techno-CGI world of the late 90’s and beyond. I recent movie brought me back though…Super 8. Something about the way the movie was filmed, and the story was told. It reminded me of those days, and the movies that flowed during the late 70’s and early 80’s.

  3. I think it’s funny that you have a tradition to ALMOST watch Jaws every year. At least you get an A+ for effort! 😉 I like to swim at the beach, so I try not to watch shark movies too often. I don’t want to freak out every time I go in the water. So I do the equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and going “La La La- there aren’t sharks in the water. Can’t hear you!”

    • You should see me swimming off the boat in unfamiliar water. It takes every bit of discipline for me not to climb right back on board…but I don’t want to scare the kids. I don’t like swimming in water where I can’t see more than a few feet around me. Then again, I wouldn’t want to look and really see…sort of the same as your La-La-La strategy.

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