Millennials, Squalls, and a Local Pumpkin.
I’ve owned this business long enough now that a new generation has appeared within our guests, guides, and crew. Millennials. From what I’ve read about them and from the millennials I know, this is good news for SwimVacation. They want real experiences, not planned, canned vacations. Health and fitness is important to them, they want active vacations. They’re not biased against foreign cultures, and are willing to travel far and wide. SwimVacation is nicely equipped to provide them with these things. We are also looking forward to employing people from this generation.
The story of Zack
Although Zack, 21, grew up in Portland, Maine, just 40 minutes from where Heather and I live in Bath, we’d never met. In fact, Zack and I finished next to each other in a 2.4 mile swimming race in 2013, and I probably shook his hand, but we didn’t meet then, either. Bizarrely, we were introduced to Zack by Captain Simeon, who is from Scotland, lives in Greece, and sails all over. They worked together on some charters in Florida, and Simeon was impressed with his character and skills. We concur. From the day we were introduced to him, Zack has exceeded every expectation we’ve had. He responded to our emails promptly and politely. We met with him in Bath and were further impressed. On charter with SwimVacation, he’s been invaluable. He anticipates the needs of the captain, the chef, the guides, and most importantly, the guests. He can grab a mooring ball in a stiff wind, drive the dinghy in confused seas, and carry 75 pounds of groceries for 5 blocks in 90 degree heat. He can also swim fast and strong in open water, and we borrowed him this week a few times to help guide our swimmers. I call him Kid, but he’s got what it takes and more.
We woke in Treasure Cay Bay to moody skies. Dave suggested a 4-mile swim to the opposite side of the bay and back. The wind was almost nothing, the sea glassy. We discussed a leisurely, stretched out pace. Easy. Jamie and Brett led the way, Dave, Paul, and I fell into a rhythm. Heather led Art, Jenny, and Stephanie in a big triangle starting and ending at the yacht. After 15 minutes, I felt a following sea. We stopped for a breath and saw a very dark cloud bank approaching. We pushed on, wind building from behind. We reached the other side in about an hour, 5-foot waves crashing us onto the shore. Looking back toward the yacht, we saw 2 miles of frothy, angry water. A 15-knot wind whipped up breaking waves, swells, and a confused chop. We could have walked back along the beach at this point, but I think we all wanted the challenge ahead. The first 500 yards took longer than I expected, big walls of water pushing us back. I drank a fair amount of saltwater. We re-grouped outside the break, and a light, fun mood fell upon us. The weather was separating us at times, and we’d fight to come back together. About 1/2 way back, a squall hit us. Driving rain pelted our swim caps so hard that it reminded me of the sound rain makes when you’re in a camping tent. We lost sight of the yacht but not the beach, so we plowed ahead. More saltwater consumption. More waves slapping faces during sighting attempts. The thing you might not believe is that we were having fun. It was joyous, having given over. We re-gained sight of the yacht and finished side by side, stroke for stroke. 4.5 miles 2.5 hours. Bliss.
Heather guided Stephanie, Art and Jenny on a big triangle in the bay under threatening skies.
First Jamie and Brett, then Dave, Hopper and Paul returned from the most epic swim of the trip.
Back on the yacht, we had fried another coffee maker (that's 3). We’re considering using them to make a new reef somewhere near one of the cays. Otherwise, some serious napping, snacking, and card playing commenced. We moved the yacht back into the middle of the Sea of Abaco, to the Fish Cays. It seemed like a good spot to spend the night and was close enough to the marina so we can get back to the dock Saturday morning. We all swam around the biggest cay together, and were thrilled with the wildlife and reef on the lee side. Much of the cay serves as a fish nursery, providing a safe place for the babies of the bigger fish we see elsewhere to grow up.
Chef Chris presented a fantastic mix of vegan, vegetarian, and traditional fare for dinner, including a local pumpkin dish made from a gourd he found on one of the outer cays. We gathered around Heather's laptop for her slideshow from the week. We wished guest Paul a happy birthday with a pineapple cake covered in fresh whipped cream. Guests, guides and crew lingered in the salon and on the stern. The waning moon rose. We shared favorite swim stories. As always, our guests generally choose the most challenging swims as the favorite. Just a touch of sadness as we all know the trip is coming to an end.
The Abaco Island chain has been new to us on SwimVacation, and to say we appreciate the flexibility, adventurous spirit and enthusiasm of this group of swimmers wouldn't begin to cover it. Thank you Jamie, Paul, Brett, Trudy, Art, Stephanie and Jenny for your gameness and passion for swimming this week. It's been more special than you know.
- Hopper & Heather