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Thursday

I forgot how great Angelfish Reef is to swim over. It’s at Norman Island, at the end of the BVI Archipelago. We jumped in and immediately began seeing hawksbill turtles, jacks, rays, angelfish (duh), barracuda, blue tang, parrot fish, and peacock flounder. At one point during the swim I looked to my left and in view were hundreds of Sergeant Majors (a fish named for its stripes), and two of our guests, stroking smoothly along among them. We played around in the Norman Island caves for a bit. These were the inspiration for the book Treasure Island.

The crew at the southern tip of the BVI archipelago.

SwimVacation is an efficient little company, and we don’t need a lot of gear to run trips. However, almost all the gear we did bring on

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this trip has been either lost or broken. Here’s the list:

Lost:

  • 1 dry bag
  • 1 Cannon underwater camera
  • 2 whistles and lanyards
  • 1 towing lanyard for the SUP
  • 1 toenail (Guest Patty’s)

 

Broken:

  • 1 Lumix underwater camera
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 partially flooded camera housing
Sailing to Maho Bay. Linda and Shawn work on some knitting, get some sun.

On SwimVacation, we let the winds decide our locations every day, or every few hours, for that matter. Being based on a sailing yacht allows us to get to the good spots quickly. After our swim at Angelfish Reef, we decided to head to Maho Bay in St. John, USVI. We’ve never brought SwimVacationers there, although guide Dave and I have spent considerable time swimming there over the years, he with Total Immersion, me with my wife Cortney while vacationing in the 90s and 00’s. The first seeds for the idea of SwimVacation were planted here. We set a swim course that would bring us along the bay, then cross a short channel to Whistling Cay, swim around it, then back to Promenade.

Mark plunges in at Maho Bay. Patty and Dave chill on deck. Fishing bats of Maho bay at work.

The first leg of the swim, along the edge of the bay, went great. Guest Peggy really showed her speed staying just ahead of guide Dave and me. We all re-grouped before the channel crossing, the guides had a quick safety pow-wow, and we swam off, Heather and Dave swimming, me on the SUP. This is big water through here; confused seas, surging with some whitecaps, and the guests charged ahead. We re-grouped avery 200 yards or so along the cay, Dave pointing out the route. The back side of the cay has these massive, dramatic rock formations that looked like pictures I have seen of Phuket, Thailand.

At the very end of the formation we had to swim through a narrow passage, seas surging on either side. From here, the Promenade was about a mile away, against the wind. And we couldn’t exactly see the Promenade, either, though we could see the general grouping of boats where it was moored. Our cohesive little group of 9 swimmers and guides then came apart a bit, splitting up to find their own way back, regardless of how much we guides worked to round them up. I realized then we had allowed them to bite off more than they cold chew, and being fatigued from the big Island crossing yesterday, it turned into a long slog of a swim. We should have done 1/2 of what we planned.

Luckily, we had a pitcher of Painkillers and a pitcher of Bushwhackers leftover from last night. I quickly poured those over ice, stuck in some straws, and got to work on dinner as the let swimmers straggled in. Backed mahi with Barra sauce and Caesar salad. Weary smiles appear.

We pushed this group. Their response was to keep swimming. We’ll give them an easy swim tomorrow. Maybe.

– Hopper

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