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Angels in the water.

Friday, December 9th

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Angelfish reef sits at the southern tip of Norman Island and is the end of the archipelago of the BVIs.  This reef never disappoints when it comes to wildlife, and we like to finish our trips here. We woke in Privateer Bay, right next to the reef. Almost everyone slept in a little later than normal, as we’d told them our first swim wouldn’t start until 9:30, and I think yesterday’s 3.8 mile channel crossing from Peter to Norman may have had something to do with the extra sleep.

Most swimmers are careful about what they eat before a swim. Some need a big breakfast with lots of protein. Most prefer something small, like toast and peanut butter or a hard boiled egg. Water and/or coffee, but not too much. It’s a delicate balance between getting enough fuel but not so much that it’s sloshing around in your gut, sometimes with a gulp of seawater. We put out a variety of things, a swimmer’s continental breakfast let’s call it. We keep it out until after well after the swim is over for post-swim breakfast, as well.

We plotted a swim course from the stern, along a set of cliffs to Angelfish reef, then back around the inside of Privateer Bay to The Caves. We didn’t break any speed records. There were so many different species of fish that it kept distracting us. Heather gave some impromptu talks about habitat and behavior. The water was absolutely gin clear. You could make out small details to a depth of 40 feet. I’ve never seen such clear water anywhere except maybe a couple of spots in the Mediterranean, off Turkey’s south coast. Fish everywhere, especially along an underwater ledge. Lots of juveniles, which tend to be very bright and fancy.

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Around to the caves, which you can swim right into. Guide Will shook hands with a spiny urchin by mistake, and was left with several spines in his hand. Karen and I swam back to the Promenade to fetch the dinghy, then went back to retrieve Will. He’s doing fine but may not be able to bowl left handed for a few weeks. We’ve developed a phrase on SwimVacation: “At least it happened to a guide!”

The rest of us swam back to Promenade, and Heather took her famous swimmer portraits. I think the ones she took of our group of female guests were especially great this time.

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While watching, I smelled pizza. Sure enough, chef Chris had prepared huge pepperoni veggie pizzas. After lunch, some guests used the SUP and the kayaks, some napped, some read. Heather and I practiced our free diving, checking out a burrowing tilefish and an arrow crab – they have crazy legs. I declared a goodbye swim back to Angelfish reef, when it started to rain. Hard. A rainbow appeared, and in the nick of time, as we hadn’t seen one yet, and I’m not sure we’ve had a SwimVacation without at least one fantastic rainbow.

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Our group swam as a single unit for this last swim, led by a hawksbill turtle gliding just beneath the swimmers. It was a fitting end to our time out on the water.  We motored back to Road Harbor, cocktails in hand, chatter filling the cockpit. As we anchored, Will (literally single handed) played a slideshow he had created from Heather’s photos from the week. Lots of smiles. Shrimp Scampi. Wine. Stories from our week. Success.

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Sometime around 4am it started to rain again, a deluge. It continued through the morning in spurts, and we had to time dinghy departures between showers. Nobody likes goodbyes, especially when it means leaving the Promenade and SwimVacation and old and new friends. Hugs and promises to stay in touch abounded. So many of our alumni have stayed in touch, and I know this group will be no exception.

This was an important trip for SwimVacation. Getting to know a new Captain and crew is a big deal. Ken is just starting out in the charter business, but you’d never know it. He and the crew picked up on our needs quickly. They put us in our favorite spots. We were fed delicious meals. We never ran out of club soda. When stuff on the yacht broke, he fixed it and communicated with us the entire time. This is all great news for SwimVacation, Promenade, and all the people who charter her in the future.

If you’ve been following along this week and you think a swimming vacation sounds like your kind of thing, consider joining us in March. We’d love to swim with you.

Cheers,

Hopper

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