Here's something positive: for the foreseeable future, I get to choose my entire crew to run trips. There are 2 general categories for SwimVacation crew - swim crew and boat crew. We've cultivated an amazing cadre of swimming guides over the years, mostly people I have met in the open water community; old friends, new friends, random and serendipitous introductions. They are why our guests return year after year.

An empty beach and beautiful dock welcomed us on Great Guana Cay.

An empty beach and beautiful dock welcomed us on Great Guana Cay.

Boat crew is a different animal - captains, chefs, and deckhands. We've met dozens of of boat crew over the years while working on Promenade. These folks are rolling stones. They don't always check (or have) email, they change phone numbers often, they move from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean to the Pacific and back again. They can work 20 hours, sleep in impossibly cramped quarters, chop vegetables in a tiny galley in 10 foot seas, or parallel park a 52 foot yacht in a 54 foot space.  They probably aren't coming home for Thanksgiving. Luckily, Heather and I (mostly Heather) have kept in touch with them over the years, and we have been able to track them down for this trip. I'll introduce each of them to you throughout the week - Captain Simeon, Chef Chris, Deckhand Zack. 

Riding the ferry across the Sea of Abaco to Great Guana Cay. Hopper checks out a long dock into a blue sea.

We had planned on renting a motorboat this morning to scout some swimming locations in the outer Cays (pronounced "keys" here, like in most of the Caribbean). However, Marcel, the guy working at the marina, advised against this today. Too choppy. We'd burn $300 in fuel, minimum, on top of the $350 rental fee. He sent us on a ferry over to Great Guana Cay, instead, and made friends with us instead of making money from us. This impresses me.

Great Guana Cay is quintessentially Caribbean. Little cottages painted in colors like raspberry, mango, and sky blue. Golf carts are the predominant transportation. A couple of beach bars and tiny groceries make up "town".   Heather, Simeon and I found a cart rental shop and headed north  to a beach that looked like a good launch point for a swim. It gave us a good feel for the water here; crystal clear, shallow, sugary white sand. We spied a massive sea star but not much else. 

Hopper & Heather go for a swim off Great Guana Cay while Captain Simeon hangs out on the dock. Hopper checks out one of the big sea stars on our swim. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our golf cart beneath a palm. Chaffy put a skull and crossbones on Simeon's sandwich.

Lunch was PBnJ sandwiches that chef Chris had packed for us, hanging out on our golf cart, beneath a palm tree. Things just taste better in situations like this. Further north we found a massive construction site for a residential development. More friendly folks there amid the dust and heavy equipment. Heading back south, we checked out the Atlantic side: wild, blue, waves, more sugary sand. We found a little shack where a guy gave us some impossibly fresh conch salad and a beer with a side of maritime advice.




Meanwhile, Chef Chris and Deckand Zack were busy provisioning our charter yacht. As I stepped aboard the Lagoon 52 for the first time, my head was spinning. I'm counting on this design to be the platform for my little business. She's big and wide. Tons of deck space. I haven't digested it all yet. 

A few weeks ago, as we were connecting the entire crew via email, our Iron Swim Guide Dave Barra made an offhand comment about chef Chris making lamb's tongue souse, a classic Bahamian dish. They've never met.  Chef Chris took this on as a challenge, and started simmering a pot full of tongues as soon as we got here. Tonight the final product was presented, and it melted in our mouths. 

- Hopper