POSTED: Saturday, May 26, 2012 - 4:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, May 26, 2012 - 4:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A California kayaker is counting his blessings after surviving a weekend shark attack.
Joey Nocchi of Paso Robles and his two buddies launched their kayaks in Cambria Saturday and paddled north.
After a successful fishing trip, they were making their way back to shore when it happened.
"I was taking just nice fluid strokes just cruising along and I got hit from the bottom and it sounded like somebody hit my kayak with a base ball bat," he said.
That bat turned out to be a 15-foot great white shark.
It's powerful jaws and teeth sunk deep into his vessel, pushing Joey five feet into the air, and then into the water.
"I had my life vest on and it came across me, and I didn't want to touch it. I had my hands back but his tail came across me and I felt his skin on my hands and it was a pretty crazy, eery feeling," Joey said.
The shark swam away, retreating deep into the water.
At that time he wasn't sure if he was gone for good.
His only thought was to get back into the kayak, now taking on water, and paddle back to shore.
"Sharks don't like people, they don't like to eat people," said Richard Stacy of the North Coast Ocean Rescue Team.
He said if a shark doesn't like what it's eating, it will back off.
Still, sometimes their teeth can hit a vital artery, and that's when it turns deadly.
Postings now line Leffingwell Landing, where Joey launched his kayak, warning people of the confirmed attack.
Stacy said surfers recently reported elephant seals on beaches, where they're normally not -indicating sharks may be near.
"You're at their mercy. You're in their element when you're in the ocean," said Richard.
Joey says he'll go out again, but he's giving it a few days.
"Got that out of the way, so probably shouldn't happen again," he laughs.