Rewards.

Full disclosure: I'm writing this blog from bed. And by bed, I mean my tiny little coffin bunk in the forepeak of this boat. The only way in and out is the hatch in the ceiling. I can't stand up in here (I'm only 4'11") and I'm sharing it with my bag of clothes and some extra towels and other bags and equipment. The other day when we swam with the pigs, I got so much sand in my bathing suit, and even though I thought I'd rinsed it all out, I managed to get a pile of sand in my bed. Trying to get it out is like trying to get the tab out of a coke can. When I first moved in to this coffin, I felt a little cramped, maybe even a little homesick. But as always happens, over the week, it becomes my nest, my retreat, my home away from home. So this is my last night in my little sandy, cramped nest, and it's been such a long and amazing day and I'm so tired but I really want to get the blog out so now I've added my laptop to this nest full of things. And I'm lying down. All of this to say, you may not see this post till morning.

 Like velvet, the water today.

Like velvet, the water today.

What. A. Day.

We started with a genuinely flat, calm, glassy sea in Treasure Cay Bay. The soft pastel colors, the smooth surface of the water, the calm. What a treat. Of course the water was even colder after our cool night last night, but it looked far too delicious not to get in. That said, I opted for guiding from the SUP today. Janine and Simon set out on a 3 mile smooth swim, I paddled along side the strong kicker Myssie, while Hugh and Hugh continued their bobbing, chatting Father-Son reunion all around the bay. Everybody was buddied up and we had the whole place to ourselves. A total delight.

 Look at that water! Look at that light!

Look at that water! Look at that light!

Myssie and I played with the goPro and she even took some photos of me on the board. It was so flat and calm I was able to do some yoga and never fell off. On our way back to the boat we talked about her body position in the water, building on the stroke technique session Simon had done with her a few days ago. We also stopped frequently to chat, as we have become fast friends, and suddenly felt like we had so much to share before the day got away from us. It was a lovely and fulfilling excursion.

We got back to the boat and I grabbed my big rig camera and some fins to do some underwater portraits. In the distance I saw the two bobbing orange heads of Hugh and Hugh. Oh, and I saw the diving dorsal fins of three dolphins swimming around them. Dolphins!! #thejennybragaeffect continues. Dolphins.

Eventually we all reconvened at the boat, hoping the dolphins would come to us some more. I even tried singing underwater. In spite of that, they did come to us. I only got one or two mediocre photographs in the milky water, but Kid Swim Zack nailed it with his go pro on a stick. He got great video of the dolphins swimming by, and I pulled a few fantastic stills from his catch. Well done, kid.

 Dolphin photos by Zack.

Dolphin photos by Zack.

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Thrilled and chilled, we all climbed aboard the boat. We lifted anchor and headed out for Fish  Cays, entranced and enthralled by the smooth aqua sea around us. No one could get enough.

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Chris filled us with a great enchilada lunch, and we suited up again for a minimal swim, a tour really, of one of the Fish Cays. Fish Cay indeed! We saw all of our usual BVI reef suspects, including a big spiny lobster, a GIANT Southern Sting Ray, a large nurse shark, schooling barracuda, teaming silver sides, butterfly fish, angel fish, and most exciting of all, an Octopus. Right there on the wall. Just hanging out waiting to be appreciated. Wow.

Myssie and Simon celebrate the day with goofy penguin dives. So funny.

Look at that octopus. Magnificent.

Dolphins and an octopus in one day?? What is this? I don't know. It just felt like after all of the flexility, gameness, enthusiasm, and everything else these four swimmers have shown, the Sea of Abaco just wanted to spend Friday saying, "Hey guys, thanks for coming. I know it's been a little bumpy, a little cold, but here's a calm turquoisey day full of dolphins and an octopus and stuff." Reward. For having faith in this process, for jumping into a sea that wasn't always what we ordered. Reward. It was a rewarding day.

Beyond that, we had a fantastic dinner and I showed the fab four a slideshow from their week. It's a collaboration really, this body of photographs from a week on SwimVacation. Sure, I'm the one with the cameras. But our swimmers are the ones living this swimming life out loud. Immersing themselves into blues and greens and warms and colds and waves and waters like glass. Pushing themselves, trusting themselves, trusting the water. Shedding the stuff from their terrestrial existence and being the most themselves they've been in a long time. All I have to do is witness it, and push the button once in a while. Photographing people who love to swim. How did I get so lucky?

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Tomorrow morning we'll jump in for a sunrise splash, then head back to port. It will be hard to say goodbye, to each other, to the Abaco Islands and this green blue sea beneath impossible pink skies.

What a day we had. What a life I lead.

- Heather

 Simon and I goofing around before dinner. Hats are funny. Thanks, Janine for the pics!

Simon and I goofing around before dinner. Hats are funny. Thanks, Janine for the pics!