Back. Better.

We woke to a stiff easterly wind in White Bay, Peter Island, with lots of whitecaps popping up. We had planned a swim for 7:30am, but by 8:30 we were still sipping coffee and lying about how fast we swam in college. When we finally got in, guest Kendra led the way, which is pretty typical. This is her 3rd trip with us, our youngest guest by quite a few years. Kendra is a water woman, equally comfortable above or beneath the waves.

Heather & Kendra.

Heather & Kendra.

About half way through the swim, The wind started to build even more, and some big gusts were whipping up the bay into a frenzy. Our swimmers put their heads down and pounded their way back to yacht Camano, confident and fast from their week of doubles. Tammy and Deb had snorkeled to White Beach, and were kind of stranded there in the mini tempest. Too windy for a dinghy rescue, their spouses swam them back to Camano in a heroic act of chivalry. As soon as they climbed aboard, the wind stopped.

We dug into some snacks while Heather took her famous swimmer portraits.

A quick side note on SwimVacation and personal health: At the beginning of every trip, we give a wellness talk, that is, how to stay healthy on SwimVacation. Many of our guests (and guides) come from climates that are very different from that of the BVIs. We give tips on how to avoid sunburn, stay hydrated, and well rested. Our 10 years of running these trips have made us pretty good at keeping everyone healthy and happy.  It's part of the recipe for Coming Back Better.

Having to be back at the dock at 5pm was shortening our day a bit, but we wanted to try to squeeze every last drop from it. We decided to yank the hook and head for The Indians, a rock formation just off Peter Island, but sitting squarely within the Drake Channel. Splashing in for a quick swim, we quickly noticed how amazing the coral was here, seemingly untouched by Irma. There were fish everywhere - Sergeant Majors, Black Durgin, Chromis, Blue Tang, Creole Wrasse, and Yellowtail Snapper, all swimming around together next to a steep, deep, coral covered wall. A lot of other reefs around the Virgin Islands have been damaged, but this spot looks great, and we’ll be back to The Indians in December.

Oh, Zack.

Oh, Zack.

Our trip back to Tortola was a bit hairy. A storm whipped up again, throwing steep waves under the Camano and pelting rain at us. Our tray of deviled eggs fell off the table, a tragedy because Miriam had done such a nice job with them. Captain Bob gutted it out at the helm, very wet but still in a good mood. Back in Hodges Creek and tied up to the dock, we cracked some beers, uncorked some wine, walked around a little. Pasta Carbonara with meatballs was the main course, and it paired nicely with a California Cabernet. Heather played her slideshow of photographs from the week, always a hit. 

This trip was a big deal for us. SwimVacation has taken some hits in the past 8 months, with losing our go-to charter yacht to a fire, and having our favorite Islands and their inhabitants crushed by a category 5 hurricane. The Islands look a little different now, and so do we. We are choosing our own crew. We’re on a bareboats that have a little less character but a lot more room and comfort. Going through these struggles has made us even more confident in the strength of this company and what we do. We're just a small mirror of the resilience we've seen all around us in these British Virgin Islands. We’ve come out of struggle on the other side in good shape, with sold-out trips and happy guests. We'll keep coming home to our BVI, swimming, immersing, and coming back better.

- Hopper