Three game spelunkers, two rays a leaping, and a rainbow over a blue sea.

Oh Friday, why do you have to come so soon?


Woke up to a brisk and busy wind in Privateer Bay at Norman Island. Hmm. Should we stay here or move on for our morning swim? I dithered about it while our guests took to some yoga on the bow, after which, a lovely rainbow appeared. Nonsense - we're staying right here. So in we went. Dave and Fitzy took Patrisha, Chris, Susan and Cynthia on and adventure around the corner of Angelfish reef and out into the big blue. They rode the rollers, and felt the power of big water. 

Meanwhile, I had the pleasure of a lovely meandering swim with Art, Luise and Charlie to the caves which they had missed yesterday. Art is 75, and Luise and Charlie are both 79. Charlie took up swimming just a few years ago, and Luise is very concerned that he has not yet reached his full potential. We’ve been giving him pointers and tips all week, and he is most certainly more efficient than when he came to us! 

We 4 swam to the caves. The first one we stood in front of, admired, but none of us wanted to go in. The second one we passed altogether. The third is the one you swim into and walk out of. These three swam in, and immediately started hooting and howling like kids, testing the echo. Adorable. I guided them slowly through the narrow passage to where the water shallows and you can stand up on the rocks and walk out. It’s a very cool experience, but if I’m honest, one I find challenging at best with regard to footing and balance at the ripe old age of 46. What was I thinking??? Charlie crawled across the rocks on his hands and knees. Art was next and somehow made it on all fours, and still managed to give a hand to Luise, who was the most graceful of us all. It took a while, but they all made it, without making a sound. The whole time I felt so bad, and I couldn’t stop laughing, not at them, but at my own idiocy. They were such sports, and when they finally made it out, they all laughed and swore at me. We had a good time, and I apologized profusely. I also think they were each secretly proud and glad they’d made it. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

While we were swimming back, we were escorted by myriads of sergeant majors, tang, and even a fleet of giant silver tarpon. Art and I both happened to see a small yellow tail snapper pick a wrasse right out of the water column in one gulp. The food chain is alive and well at Norman Island!

The big water crew passed us and went to the caves themselves, and while there - another lightening strike - Chris, Fitzy and Susan saw a spotted eagle ray leap into the air three times!! #thechrismatavaeffect also alive and well! Two leaping rays in two days! Hey Chris! Don’t leave! 

And wow, can you imagine if we manage to have #thejennybragaeffect and #thechrismatava effect in one SwimVacation trip??? Leaping dolphins and rays for days!!

Ok. Calm down.

Back on the boat, we dropped the mooring ball and made for our last stop, White Bay, Peter Island. We drop anchor and no joke, another spotted eagle ray jumped. Rays are jumping. What can I say?!


We opted for an early lunch so we could spend our precious last few hours in the water. I broke out the big rig camera housing and had a great photo session with each of our swimmers. One of my favorite things to do on Swimvacation.

Our group made one final swim across the bay to the rock outcrop you can swim around and through. They reported excellent marine life and color. I’ll check it out myself next week.

They came back and reluctantly, we all climbed aboard. We had a pleasant trip back to Tortola, where we sit tonight at our dock, not wanting morning to come.

We enjoyed a slideshow together from an incredible week. Great weather, great swimming, the heartache of the realization of how much destruction Irma caused, punctuated by the poignant signs of marine life reestablishing itself here. Sometimes I think a good and hopeful recovery is more important in the long run than never feeling the pain of loss. It makes things heartier, more meaningful, more lasting, better.

We lingered over dinner, dessert, another home run by Miriam. Our guests came here as strangers to each other. Tomorrow they’ll leave, as friends who’ve shared an amazing and special thing. The bonds we make in the water together are long and lasting. 

Our return to the islands has been so special this week. I hate to let these guys go, and I can’t believe I get another week to do it again.

Thanks so much to Art, Cynthia, Luise and Charlie, Susan, Chris and Patrisha. You’ve been the perfect people to come home with.

- Heather