Sunday, December 4th I always have at least a touch of the butterflies on the morning of the first day of SwimVacation. Can we pull this off again? What if it gets really windy? What if one of my guides goes down with the flu? What if one of my guests forgot to tell me they were allergic to everything except caviar and champagne?
I spent much of the morning and previous evening getting to know Ken, the new owner and Captain of the Promenade. Owning and operating a charter yacht in the Caribbean sounds romantic, but the reality is that it’s incredibly, ridiculously hard work. The ocean literally eats away at boats, 24 hours a day. The Promenade has a lot of creature comforts, but that makes it a complicated boat. There are about 30 electric pumps on the boat, and they break every year or so, which means you’re always replacing them. Electrical systems, hydraulic systems, batteries, motors, generators, sails, plumbing, navigation systems all need constant maintenance. The engine room is about 95 degrees, and sometimes hours need to be spent in there to fix something. I can tell already that Ken has really solid charter boat captain skills, good news for the Promenade, her guests, and SwimVacation.
This morning we picked up 9 guests in groups of 3s from the marina and brought them to our charter yacht Promenade, in our dinghy. Peggy, Greg, Tim, Tenley, Heidi, Karen, Rick, Art, and Susie. 3 former guests and 6 new ones. Some had been traveling for 24 hours, from the west coast. I can usually tell how a group will gel at first glance, as they’re sitting around a table at the Marina. This group will do great.
The first day is filled with a lot of speeches: welcome, seasick prevention, boat safety, swim safety. We motored over to Little Harbor on Peter Island, tied the stern to a rock on the shore, a nice light lunch, and went for our first swim. There’s been almost no wind for 24 hours, so the already clear water here was crystal. We swam around the inside of the harbor and saw eagle rays, southern rays, puffer fish, barracuda, tarpon, grouper, remora, and a turtle.
Sunset daiquiris awaited us on our return from the almost 2-mile swim, and the conversations flowed easily. A platter of Cornish game hens appeared from the kitchen, along with smashed potatoes and some perfectly prepared carrots. Chef chris knows how to cook.
This group reminds me once again that swimmers have a special bond, and total strangers can become a tight clan in a matter of hours. We’ll test them tomorrow, maybe with 3 swims.