Tuesday March 10.
I didn’t think I had it in me. But when I looked left, then right, I realized I did.
What is it about water that always reveals more within us?
Let me back up to:
This morning. We woke to wind. A wind we had found shelter from last night tucked way deep into Little Harbour on Peter Island. It’s been increasing in intensity and this morning it sniffed us out and roused us from our bunks. But we are here to swim so after a nice breakfast of yogurt and assorted cereals and fresh fruit, we suited up. We plotted our course based on the reconnaissance of dawn swimmers Jamie and Maury.
We headed straight across the harbour to the point with the wind at our backs. Long, smooth strokes made it feel like flying. The point was rough and choppy, but the reef beneath made the tossing worth it. Once we were there, I offered the fab 5 (Mark, Yafa, John, Frances and Ellen) the option to swim straight back – a challenge into the wind, or to hug the shore, both in the lee and full of reef life. The group was divided at first, and I said each swimmer could do what they wanted. Yafa pronounced, “No. We stay together. I’ll swim what they want to swim”. And with that, we all followed the shore line.
They chose to stick together. I love this.
I had briefed everyone to be ready to get out of the water promptly after the swim. We had a long journey ahead of us, so no dawdling. We got back to the boat, whose stern line was attached to a pier. Under the pier was an amazing school of silver sides moving in a hypnotic formation. So we dawdled. I was probably chief dawdler, actually, and was the last one out.
We all settled in and battened down the hatches, literally. Our captains advised us that it would be a rough trip to Virgin Gorda, up wind, with lots of swell. I will admit, I often like these sorts of passages on SwimVacation, because when it’s rough like that, I can’t work at a computer, and even making more pictures can be difficult. The conditions just about force me to take a break and be in the moment, without guilt or pressure to work. I need that once in a while. A bunch of us sat out on the trampoline which, over time, went from sunny, splashy and fun, to ok, i’m cold, soaked through and have had enough, but this boat is rocking so much I don’t think I can get up to move somewhere else. It got downright hard.
By the time we arrived at Virgin Gorda three hours later, we were all a little the worse for wear. Everyone was a little beaten down, tired, and unsteady. We dropped an anchor a few hundred yards off of my favorite beach, just south of Spanish Town. Chef Mo dinghied over from Prom to tell us that lunch would be at least an hour – of course he couldn’t prep anything under weigh. Everyone looked like they needed a nap. They also looked like they could use a few minutes on a sandy beach. So I called play time. Some put on fins, others meandered to the beach, but we all went in to play in this magnificent turquoise oasis. I watched as a weight was shed and color returned to cheeks.
Did you know Ellen is a mermaid? She is. And today she put on her tail and gave us a quirky, excellent lift. We had a play date and impromptu photo session with a mermaid. It was fantastic, and just what we all needed.
The play time perked everyone up, and we devoured Mo’s incredible burritos. We retreated back to our respective boats and prepared for another move up to Mountain Point, VG, where we are now. This trip was much shorter and smoother, but we were still glad to drop anchor here.
We didn’t do so till nearly 530, and enthusiasm for another swim seemed low, mine included. I just didn’t think I had it in me. But then, one by one, my little merpeople donned their swim caps and plopped in once again. The wind was a fickle force, blowing hard in our faces no matter which direction we swam. Paul and I decided to syncro swim together, shoulder to shoulder, moving at the same pace. We quickly added David, and the three of us dug deep and had a fantastic, hard, swim. We could really feel the energy moving between us, and it made us feel like no matter what the wind and the waves threw at us, we could do this. We cruised along the wall to the beach, met up with the rest of the group, then set out fast and hard again. We came upon Mermaid Ellen (just people fins on this time), and absorbed her into our ranks. The 4 of us made it to the point, then headed headlong into a screaming wind, spray in our faces on every breath, stroke for stroke we stuck together until we reached our boat. We were drained and ecstatic. So glad to have jumped in.
Dinner was a delicious but short affair – everyone was so wiped from the day’s significant efforts.
The sea threw it all at us today. Wind, swell, chop, chill, too much motion, incredible life, light and a real live mermaid. Not a single one of us backed away. Everyone is going to bed fully spent and delightfully satisfied. Our guests are tighter and lighter. Easy conversation about unshared pasts is now turning into connective talk about a common experience. This group is full of independent swimmers who choose to stick together. Because they want to. Because it makes them better.
Karen shared something that David said to her today. He said:
“I found my people”.