Conch Fritter Tranquilizers
The first day of every trip we run brings with it some anxiety. First impressions are important, so we shine up the yacht (again), stack our personal gear deep in the pontoons, put on a clean shirt, and get the show underway.
We started with the bulk of the provisioning, Chef Chris and Zach wiping out the local grocery store. A pile of freshly caught fish sat in a bucket of ice on the stern, purchased from a local fisherman. Piles of empty boxes grew on the dock. Dry storage bins under the floor filled up with flour, rice, beans, oats. Refrigerators filled with milk, butter, beer, cheese. A massive 60-gallon cooler on the stern kept chicken, ribs, and sausage nicely frozen.
Noticing that I was a bit wound up, Heather suggested we get away from the boat for a bit to take a breath. We headed to a typical dockside joint within walking distance, where I de-stressed with a pile of conch fritters, my new tranquilizer. Some local women walked in, striking, all dressed from church. I ate more conch fritters. These were spicy, not doughy, crispy on the outside, nicely chewy, a few chopped peppers appeared in the mix. Bravo. Oh shit Hopper, drop the fritter, our guests are arriving.
These guests, a mix of new and former clients, are a special bunch for me. About a year ago, they registered for a trip to the British Virgin Islands on the Yacht Promenade. Today they are in the Bahamas, climbing aboard a yacht named Wetteau, whatever that means. Even with a switch of locations, yachts, and, for some, sleeping arrangements, they stuck with us. If not for them, SwimVacation may have folded. Which is why I choked up a little during our welcome talk.
Zack mans the deck as we pull out of the harbour, Captain Simeon on the fly bridge, and our guests settle into easy conversation as we set out into the Abaco Sea.
First days on SwimVacation involve a lot of information being tossed at our guests. We start with the basics - Captain Simeon talking abut boat safety, Chef Chris about food and beverage, Heather and Dave and I talking about swimming and safety and seasickness and what a typical day looks like on SwimVacation. We motor-sailed across the Sea of Abaco to Elbow Cay, home of the Hope Town Lighthouse, a tall, striped beauty. We only had 30 minutes until sunset, so we plotted a swim course, limited it to 20 minutes, and jumped in. Red skies in the west. Super moon rising in the east. Swimmers silently gliding across glassy water. Glorious.