This morning our crew and guides were sitting poolside at the marina, waiting for our yacht to be cleaned. Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen walked by, and we had a conversation. Soon it was time for us to get on our yacht, and we had to be like, ooookay Tom and Gisele, we have to go now. We didn’t want to be rude, but we had guests coming. Facts.

Guide Simon and I flew down yesterday to replace guides Dave and Dave, while Captain Richie, chef Miriam, deckhand Zack, and photog/guide Heather stuck around to run week two. Our trip down here hit a snag when we got to West Palm Beach airport, tried to walk to our gate, and hit a security line. No sweat. I’ll just pull up our electronic boarding passes and we’ll breeze through to our gate.. Uh-oh, they only issued boarding passes for the first leg. OK, no problem, we’ll do online check-in from our phones. Not available for this flight. Ok, no problem, we’ll run up to the ticket counter and get them to print the boarding passes. Uh-oh, nobody at the check-in counter, just a note that says we are not here, call this number for assistance. Uh-oh, nobody home, voicemail full. Ok, no problem, we’ll have them paged with the courtesy phone. Uh-oh, nobody answered the page. So we missed the flight, booked another the next morning our of Fort Lauderdale, took an Uber down there, found a hotel, flew into the Bahamas 2 hours before the trip begins. It would have been enough time if Tom and Gisele hadn’t shown up at the marina and wanted to chat. Sigh.


About half of our guests on any given SwimVacation these days have been with us before. This trip is no exception, with 4 returning guests: Rick, Miriam, Yafa, and Marianne, and 3 new guests: Alexia (daughter of Marianne), Tara, and Cecile. They hopped aboard our yacht Cataventure, a 6-cabin, 52-foot catamaran, and quickly became a solid unit.

Captain Richie and Zack dropped the lines and we motored into the Sea of Abaco. It’s such a unique place, almost uniformly 13 feet deep and crystal clear. The soft blues and turquoise waters are breathtaking. I want to drink them in, though I know this would cause a bellyache. As we moved along, you could see the bumps on the giant starfish we passed. A large dark patch off our starboard side turned into a nurse shark, swimming along the bottom. We circled around it few times. Some turtles appeared. It reminds me that these animals are always present, the exception in the Bahamas is that we can always see them. Our guests munched on Caesar salad during the wildlife show.

Our first destination of the trip was Tahiti Beach, Elbow Cay. It’s a beautiful sandbar, bright white sand, brilliant colors. It’s a popular spot for recreational boaters, which has kept us away in the past, but we thought we’d give it a try. It turned into a nice little swim, albeit among some anchored day boats. We swim over a lot of turtle grass in the Abacos. At first glance it seems lifeless, but when you look closely it’s filled with all kinds of life: anemones, upside-down jellyfish, clams, crabs, gobies and blennies, conch, and urchins all find their home here. Rays feed on most of them, and turtles eat the grass. We were buzzed for an hour by two of the biggest spotted eagle rays we’ve ever seen, feeding on the crustacean life that fills the grasses. It’s fun to swim here and discover these habitats hiding in plain sight.


Chef Miriam whipped up some cocktails and snacks as the sun began to set at our stern. It got so hot and sunny and the water looked so yummy that almost everyone jumped back in the water for a dip. Asian stir fry filled our bellies. Card games and board games broke out. So many stars filled the sky. Generator off, hatches open, gently rocked to sleep in the beautiful sea.

PS. I had to silence my phone in case Tom and Giselle kept texting. Sheesh.

- Hopper