What we did for a Klondike bar.

Four years ago, while sailing into Road Harbor on SwimVacation, I noticed an old ship among a rusting pile of somewhat newer ships. She had nice lines, a tall stern, almost tugboaty but not a tugboat. As with in most other situations like this, I googled the name on the stern with some other keyword - “Kodiak” “vessel” “ship”. It turned out that the Kodiak was one of the last surviving ships from the attack on Pearl Harbor. The navy sold her to an oil company and she worked the Alaska offshore fields for most of her life. Someone bought her and steamed her to Tortola, some business scheme in mind that never worked out. So there she sat. 


Richard Branson, who owns Necker Island here in the BVIs, has a staff photographer who took an interest in the Kodiak and formed or joined a group to figure out how to honor her. She was too far gone for restoration, so the idea of sinking her to create a reef was floated (pun intended - Dad joke!).  When presented with the idea (and, I assume, a request for funding) Branson told them to come back with a bigger and more exciting idea. The group put their thinking caps on and came up with a new idea - sink the Kodiak with a giant Kraken (mythical octopus-like beast) made from rebar that would eventually become covered in coral. Fabulous, said Sir Richard, and the fabrication of the Kraken and sinking of the Kodiak off Mountain Point in 60 or so feet of water off Mountain Point, Virgin Gorda was completed last year. 

We woke up off Mountain Point this morning, and plotted a smooth “25 minutes out” swim where we swim for 25 minutes in one direction then turn around and swim back to the yacht. As we headed out, the Kodiak appeared beneath us, her friendly rounded off bow and stern clearly visible at about 25 feet. We completed a really smooth swim across the bay, in which a school of 3 friendly jacks followed us most of the way, then circled around us as we treaded water, chatting. Back at the Kodiak, we dove down to check out the details. The rebar Kraken took a hit from Irma, so the form is a bit twisted up. Regardless, it’s a great addition to one of our already favorite spots. 

Zack is our deckhand this week. I’ve waxed on about him before, but he deserves another round of credit for keeping these trips running so well. He’s just 22 but has the diligence and focus of someone much older. He works tirelessly, anticipates problems, treats everyone with respect, doesn’t look at his phone all the time. I hope we can keep him aboard and working these trips from a very long time. 

Captain Bob and Zack hoisted the sails, and we glided downwind across the channel to Tortola. Ridiculously delicious chicken tacos were served for lunch. Vegetarians had options, too. We fueled up at a dock on the East End, wind banging us around a bit but escaping unscathed. There are lots of half-sunken boats here. We steamed back across the channel to Norman Island, giving me a chance to hang out with guests Mike and Dave. I’ve known these guys for some time, as they are both swimmers from Maine, and we’ve raced and worked out together a lot over the years. Dave is a popular real estate agent in southern Maine and Mike is a respected orthopedic surgeon. It’s so great to have some Maine swimmers aboard this trip. Their spouses, Tammy and Deb, continue to rock the floaty tubes. 

We dropped the hook near Angelfish Reef, went for a swim/reef life symposium with Heather, including a group photo at the very end of the archipelago, and cave exploration. The offerings of Norman Island.


Back aboard we ate hot shrimp dip with our cocktails. Heather did some portraits of our swimmers in the soft evening light. Everyone looking content, glowing in the gifts of this Wednesday. Cornish Game Hens appeared, followed by the Klondike bars Mike & Deb bought during their land excursion! Thanks, guys! Bob talked me into playing my gityo, and the wind whistled through the yacht, singing us to sleep. 

- Hopper