Woke up at Dead Man’s Bay. Chris reported seeing a dolphin off the bow, I’m not sure where I was but I missed it. Rats.
We were going to swim there, but then we thought, nah. Let’s take advantage of the calm seas and head right to Virgin Gorda and check out the Baths.
Last March we hit the Baths for what I actually thought might be our last time ever. It’s one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, but the throngs, the crowds of people have just made it a complete bust. Hundreds of people at a time, from cruise ships and a zillion other yachts, trying to cross narrow paths amid the tightly strewn boulders. Waiting in line to climb and wade. Trying to swim and dodging a million dinghies. No thanks, SwimVacation Out.
But then, this storm. And the empty bays we’ve been seeing, and you know….maybe?
So off we went. A boat ride! Our swimmers, who have been game to stretch and swim long, seemed pretty happy to hear their morning swim wouldn’t happen until after a 90 minute motor east north east to Virgin Gorda. An extra helping of breakfast, lounging, sunning, looking around at the myriad islands and trying to tell them apart.
On approach, I was actually surprised to see 14 boats on mooring balls at the Baths. Hmmm. I was kind of hoping to have the place to ourselves. Don’t get greedy kid. This is still a fraction of the number of people that are usually here. We decided to head north just a bit to our favorite beach, Spring beach, and drop anchor.
We had a meeting on the bow about our swim - one of our favorites - through the giant granite boulders standing in the water along the shore line. We talked about trusting the water, surrendering to the flow. Trust it. Give over. You can meander through these rocks. You can follow the flow. This is an exercise about connecting with the water and listening to its rhythm.
They all got it. We jumped in, swam to the beach for a group photo, then waded back in and made for the rocks. We passed through smacks of jelly blobs - not stinging jellyfish, but benign comb jellies, smooth and blurry and creating a trippy scene in the crystal clear water. We entered the boulder field and followed the sea through it. We moved and bobbed and flowed. The water carried us and our guests loved it. Big smiles, easy bodies. A really magical and unique swim.
We hit a natural turn around spot, did another group photo, and everyone said they wanted to go further. Ok! We did, and made it all the way to the beach where you begin the walk through the caves. I was wary of mentioning it - this beautiful exploratory trail through the caves created by the boulders leaning into one another - as this is the place that has become so over visited in the last few years. But it looked fairly empty, and Cynthia and Patrisha said they wanted to see it. Let’s go ladies, into the caves.
Thank you, you Gods and Goddesses of the boulders. Thank you, I guess, to the storm of the century. In these early-ish days of return to the islands, we were nearly alone in our walk. It was so special. We walked all the way through, which deposited us at the very end of Virgin Gorda. With about a mile swim back to the boat, we dove in and headed back. Fitzy came back out and met us half way - I love this about my fellow guides. We look out for each other, never dry off until we are sure we’re all done together. He sprinted up to me and made me laugh with a goofy quip, and we brought our charges back to the boat.
As we approached I could smell lunch! And after a 2+ hour swim-walk I was ready for it. BBQ beef and chicken salad and yum. After lunch we pulled anchor and continued north up the VG coast to Mountain Point.
Last year we saw the staging for Branson’s folly - he bought an old abandoned tug boat that’s been rotting in Road Harbour for decades, and decided to sink it here at Mountain Point to create an artificial reef. But before sinking it, he had industrial artists fashion a Kraken - a mythical octopus monster, made of rebar, to be wrapped around the bow. The idea is that as reef begins to grow, the sculpture will take its intended shape.
We grabbed a mooring ball right next to the ball that marked this new dive site. Dave dove in to scout and reported it was practically right beneath us.
Our afternoon swim began with me free diving to record everyone’s strokes. From there, we swam over to the sunken tug / kraken den and checked it out. Dave and I did a little free diving, and I reached the sunken boom, I estimate at about 35 feet. It’s cool to see this giant structure on what was just an empty white sandy sea floor. And especially as we are still absorbing the sight of damage and altered reef, it’s great to see this substrate that will quickly become host to new reef life.
Meanwhile, after reporting they were tired and not wanting a big swim, Chris, Susan and Cynthia made for shore, about a half mile into the wind. Fitzy accompanied them and they all had a beach walk before coming home.
Dinner - Cornish game hens, ahem so fancy - was devoured beside a stunning sun set. I love the sunsets here at Mountain Point because of the unique silhouette created by Seal Dog Island on the horizon. The light was so beautiful I made each person get up from their dinner and stand for a portrait. Chew chew swallow, let me see you smile.
Have you ever had Cornish game hen dinner beside a giant submerged kraken? No. I didn’t think so. I highly recommend it.
Ok. All the game hen belly filled, kraken swimming kids are in bed. I’m beat and we have another cool plan for tomorrow. Read this while we rise to it.
Virgin Gorda really delivered for us. She has a beauty that clearly can’t be extinguished. And today she made it exclusively ours. I’m so glad. I’m so lucky.