Big swims and baklava.
Thursday, December 8th There’s something both romantic and slightly crazy about swimming between two islands that are 3 miles apart. We’ve done the swim between Peter and Norman Islands a handful of times, and it always requires some careful planning and a solid group of swimmers. This gang was ready, so we created 3 groups, each with a guide. Guest Rick would lead the group in a kayak full of water bottles and snacks. We’d stop every 20 minutes, the rear groups catching up, accordion style. The Promenade would float nearby, following us across.
As we swam away from Peter, we could see the bottom for about a half mile before it finally disappeared, leaving us in an endless blue. Each group stuck together, and all 3 groups met up for water breaks at the first three 20-minute intervals. The wind and swell were coming from the northeast, which is the prevailing direction here in the BVIs, forcing us to aim a few hundred yards left of our destination: the far right side of Norman Island. From atop the SUP, I could tell the wind a swell were setting us a bit, but we corrected nicely. The mood of the group was both cautious and joyous.
We were asking a lot of Rick, our escort kayaker, waiting in the wind and chop between groups. One steep wave got the better of him, and swamped his kayak. I was right next to him on the SUP, and knowing it would be impossible for him to get back on the kayak in these conditions, I looked for the Promenade, and saw that it was just about to disappear around the back side of Norman. I blew my safety whistle as hard as I could and waved my arms. Erica saw me (I later found out that neither she nor Ken could hear the whistle), and had our Captain steer over to us. We were getting close to Norman at this point, and the wind and waves were building. We got Rick and the kayak safely onto Promenade. Meanwhile, Will and Heather kept their groups together, and everyone did their jobs flawlessly. In the coming days, I’ll be thinking about things we could have done differently or better in the situation, but I’m proud of the whole crew.
Now consolidated into two groups, we rounded the corner of Norman, welcomed by the sight of Promenade moored in a calm little bay with deep, glassy blue water. A full 3.8 miles complete. The longest swim ever for many of this crew. Everyone made this swim. Everyone finished. Art confided in us that, having jumped in for the last 1.5 miles on this swim back in March, he came back to do it in it’s entirety. He did it, he did it all, he did it well and strong. We cheered. We celebrated. We climbed aboard and ate biscuits and gravy.
Our luxurious post-swim showers had taken a toll on our water supplies, so he motored back to Tortola to top off at Nanny Cay Marina. Nice place. Cute little beach, a restaurant, beach bar, pool. I found a grassy spot under a palm tree took it all in before helping Erica with the trash. Some cranky yacht owners waiting for fuel behind us huffed and puffed and paced their deck. Hey dude, Island time.
Back in the Drake Channel, Captain Ken put up Promenade’s sails and we glided back across to Norman Island. I fell asleep on the trampoline on the bow, and the guests conspired with Ken to keep sailing, out into the Caribbean. I woke up just as we crossed the continental shelf. Flying fish were showing off. We tacked once, and enjoyed a brilliant sunset as we pulled into Privateer Bay back at Norman.
Chicken souvlaki, laughter, music, baklava (yes, baklava, hand made from scratch baklava), dreams of turquoise water.