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Day 5 – Gifts from the sea

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Time is speeding up now. I blink and another day is over. But we continue to fill them with adventure and an openness to what’s offered.

 

Thursday. We wake at our mooring at the caves of Norman Island. The beautiful full moon was setting over an island in the distance. Will picked up my camera and nailed the shot as I sipped coffee in the salon. We suited up and informed our swimmers about our morning swim.

 

 

 

 

This swim is one I often forget my passion for. Not sure why, maybe because the feeling it creates in me – one of wildness and connection with an amazing array of marine creatures in a dramatic sea scape – is ephemeral. It dissolves as the boat loads of tourists come to play – noodles and all manner of floatation wrapped around them.

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But this morning we’ve got the place to ourselves and I can’t wait to get in. This stretch of the Norman Island coast really delivered today. An aquarium of life. Shoals of silversides bigger than I’ve seen in years. A flotilla of tarpon. A school of baby barracuda. Turtles. And much to Nicole’s delight, schools and schools of Blue Tang. Everyone was thrilled and quite occupied on our 1.5 mile swim to the end of the archipelago and back.

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Back to the boat where we consume what may be the finest quiche I have ever had. Some secret ingredients I’ll have to get a hold of made it a standout in a week of great food. A bit of digestion and our happy boat family split up a bit, as Chad and Felix went off to find a fisherman with lobsters to sell. We all stayed here, donned snorkel gear and headed for the caves, already filling with day trippers. I jumped in and immediately flooded my camera housing – something I’ve never done. I think it’s ok but I’m leaving it alone to dry till tomorrow…the result for the snorkel was that I brought our trusty GoPro and used it as a stills camera. Not realizing i set it to take one picture every second, I came back on board with over 800 images. I waded through them all and pulled about 50 – some I liked very much. The edge in them suits this place. I think they capture the sense of adventure with which our swimmers came to this place today.

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The snorkel was great and brought us to lunchtime. Captain and First hadn’t returned from lobster expedition yet so we guides took to the galley and prepared lunch. Chad had left some things ready to go and Will cooked them up, while Alina plated some leftovers. I busied myself cleaning up after them – those who know me know it’s just best if I keep my fingers out of the cooking. Captain came back to us with three beautiful lobsters for dinner. We dropped off the mooring ball and set out for Guana Island…..but wait! Behold Pelican Island, once circumnavigated by SwimVacationers in 2010. We have yet to return due to wind and swell, and today, it seems pretty good….shall we? Yes! Let’s!

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We love that kind of flex on SwimVacation. Hey, swimmers, see that island? Let’s jump off this boat and swim around it! Okay! they say, eager and ready for anything. And we did just that.

The back side of Pelican was keeping a secret from us – it was full of chop and swell. I swam with Jenny (She tends to attract really cool wildlife – dolphins, turtles, etc), and she definitely felt her nerves get up as we headed into the melee. But in spite of her fears, she never stopped. She flipped on her back to calm herself, she took her time, but there was never a question she wouldn’t make it around. And so we did. Way to go Jenny, tough stuff, but you’re tougher. Remember that.

Nicole and Mark actually made two laps around Pelican! And after that, Mark even through in a lap around the boat for good measure…I’m not sure there’s enough sea out there to actually satisfy Mark.

 

 

 

From Pelican we made the long ride north to Guana Island – specifically Muskmelon Bay. This bay is my favorite in all of the islands – wild and untamed, it’s nothing but sea and cliffs and sky. We’re usually alone out here, and today is no exception. Another beautiful sunset and we sit down to our feast of grilled lobster. Could this night get any better?

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How about a night swim?!

Alina brought out the glow sticks and we jumped in for an adventure in the dark. SwimVacation did its first night swim last December, and it was a hit. Tonight our swimmers jumped in without a balk. It’s a little disconcerting, requires mind over matter, and a tight group willing to cling together. Our turn around point was Felix in the dinghy about 400 yards away.

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At the end of the swim, Jenny and I had pulled out early – I escorted her back to Promenade and while I love to night swim in a group, I’ll admit that my imagination got the better of me when it came to setting out alone to catch my fellow swimmers. When the swimmers came back, a bit of bad news – everyone was feeling an impact of sea lice stings. We all dabbed benedryl on spots and got on with our night. We were planning to do a great big swim here in the morning, but that will have to be determined after we test the waters for stingers.

I’m hoping we’ll swim here in Muskmelon tomorrow, but of course we have a decent backup plan should we need to move.

All in all, we had another full and fantastic day here on SwimVacation. It’s hard to imagine what more we could add to this already amazing string of days, but I think we’ll give it a try….

– Heather

PS. Unlike the fluke of last night, I am NOT close to done with photo and blog duties at 9 and ready for bed. It’s almost midnight and I am fighting sleep… That’s what happens when you pack so much into a day like today. Wish me luck in getting this out before tomorrow…..

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