Merit Badges.

Janine will not leave me alone to write this blog. And when I am writing, she is harassing me. "What is the theme? What are you saying? Are you remembering everything?" She is laughing and being charming, and she is driving me crazy. But that is ok, because she is one of our favorites on SwimVacation, and I know she is poking me about this blog because her days on SwimVacation matter to her. 

No holding back with this bunch. I'm the last one in.

No holding back with this bunch. I'm the last one in.

Today was that day where these guys really united. Maybe it was the two brand new, un-scouted swims they did together, maybe it was the wind and chill, maybe it was the amazing hot breakfast Chris served us after our morning swim. I don't know, but now they seem like a family, to each other and to me.

We woke up in that new-to-us little bay on Nunjack Cay. We plotted a course out to a small adjacent island around the inside of the bay. These guys jumped in, dove in, no toe dipping slow motion entries, and took off swimming. We meandered around the bay past some other boats that were also hiding out in there. I saw the familiar faces of people drinking coffee in puzzlement as they watch us swim by. They are amazed, agog perhaps, wondering why we would swim away from a perfectly good boat. But that's what we do, and it allows us to experience these islands in a way you can only do from the water.

Three quarters of the way round the sound we came to a perfect little beach, like something from Gilligan's Island. We swam into 8, maybe 10 inches of water, a contest that has become popular with us here in the shallow Abacos, and then wandered around the little beach, pausing for a group photo under the thatch water bar.


These 4 always find something to linger over, something to appreciate, something to embrace and enjoy on every swim we throw them into, no matter the conditions, no matter the what. They float, discuss, laugh, lollygag, swim a little further. It's delightful.

We made it round back to the boat and I took Janine for another lap. This time around we hung a left at a little sting ray, and found a small coral head, full of juvenile fishes, an anemone and feather duster worms. An oasis in a bay of sand and turtle grass. We bobbed around it for a while and finished our two mile swim.

Our crew has gotten expert at having lots of hots ready for us as we climb aboard from these unusually chilly swims, and we dried off to cups of tea and the thickest sausage gravy you could ever dream up.

We decided to look for someplace new, further up the cay chain and made a 90 minute sail up to Bone Fish Cay, a private island with a sprawling compound and a big triangle footprint in the turquoise shallows. Cheffy filled us with a healthy lunch and we jumped in at 330pm, as the sun got low and golden. We thought we'd be protected here, but somehow the wind and chop found us anyway. I fretted about our plan to circumnavigate the island, worried our fab four would be fearful of the conditions. Needless concern. These swimmers bobbed and smiled, commented on the chaos and the chop, "frisky and fun" they called it as waves broke over them, and they bobbed and last some more. They surrendered to the irregular rhythms of it and kept on smiling.

These guys. Ready to go. Always.

These guys. Ready to go. Always.

A care taker from the island compound paddled out to see what we were all about. She was Angie, a Canadian born Bahamian woman who led us part of the way. We rounded the corner to see that the Atlantic side of the island would be impassable and our only option was to turn back. We also noted that the water from the open ocean was a full 4 - 5 degrees warmer than the shallows of Abaco, which are more quick to rise and fall with the air temps. We bobbed in the break for a while and enjoyed the warmth, then headed back in the slop to our boat, a mile of chaos completed. One thing this week has taught our little company is that while the Abacos will make a great addition to our roster of locations, I think late spring will be a more reliable time for us here, weather wise. None the less, I don't think I could have picked a better group of swimmers to roll with the punches this week. 

Merit badges, all around. Merit badge for cold water, merit badge for rough water. Merit badge for enthusiasm, for meandering, for bobbing and smiling through swims, for embracing what we've been given. Honestly, I'm so impressed with these guys. I've learned from them that I don't have to worry about the things I can't control on these trips. We aren't entitled to any kind of conditions in open water swimming. We don't get to know - that's the joy of it, and that's the wisdom we glean from it. And so of course the same holds true for a week of open water swimming, even when we do it from a fancy yacht in turquoise waters. Janine, Myssie, Hugh and Hugh came here to enjoy themselves, and regardless of what we've thrown them into, that's just what they've been doing.

Meanwhile, the clear skies have been giving everyone a brilliant nightly view of the Geminid Meteor shower. And in spite of all of the swimming they've been doing, our guests are thrilled to be so far from light pollution and have front row seats. 

Meanwhile, the clear skies have been giving everyone a brilliant nightly view of the Geminid Meteor shower. And in spite of all of the swimming they've been doing, our guests are thrilled to be so far from light pollution and have front row seats. 

Two more days with the fab four. I'm enjoying them more and more.

Janine is still driving me crazy about the blog, but Cheffy just put a bowl of hot bread putting in front of me, and that kind of smoothes things out for me, you know? Janine wants to swim big tomorrow. If she's game (and I know she is) then I'm game to take her. No matter what.

Ok Janine. The blog is done. You can read this in bed and remember that I love swimming with you, and swimming with the likes of you and so many other amazing people that join us on these crazy wonderful trips is such a gift. Sleep on that.