Day 4 - So many vacations in one.
Apparently Sonia thought this was RunVacation. The woman (along with Will and Chad) left this perfectly comfortable boat again at 6am for a hilly run on Virgin Gorda. We just can't seem to tire her out.
They came back aboard and we lifted anchor and set out for a place we haven't been in 5 years: Deep Bay on the North shore of Virgin Gorda. We jumped in just outside the bay and swam along a mangrove. Mangroves are important places, so often overlooked. They are the nursery grounds for so many marine species - in particular the big pelagic guys who spend their lives out in big blue seas. They start their journey in the sheltering roots and branches of the mangrove. These areas are beautiful but can often be tricky to swim - shallow waters, teaming with life in a scrubby, prickly underwater world. It's gritty, rough around the edges. You have to push your comfort aside a little to appreciate the beauty here. I had told our swimmers about the importance of the mangrove before our swim, and they passed smoothly through these shallow, abundant waters, taking care with hands and feet, but also honoring the role of this place in the beauty of the sea that has held us this week.
A few left over pics from yesterday, still fresh in our minds as we set out this morning.
We turned a corner into Deep Bay, a long, narrow, fjord like bay, edged with mangroves and quite deep at the center. We stopped to examine some sea stars, admiring their pentamerous symmetry (bonus points Alina and Nicole!) and beholding their unique and complex tube feet and water vascular system! Yes, a sea star is ALMOST as exciting as a wild dolphin...!
Chad caught us in our echinoderm reverie, and from there we all proceeded to a lovely little beach. I remembered this beach from my very first SwimVacation in December 2008 - I swam here with Hopper and his wife Cortney just as a nest of sea turtle hatchlings had entered the sea. That was a first for me, and I never forgot it. It was a delight to return to this spot. Everyone swam hard for about another half mile up the far side of the bay, before making a turn and heading back to Promenade, anchored at the mouth. Our swimmers had a great swim here in the calm sheltered waters of Deep Bay. I think we'll keep this one on our swim roster for next time.
Sails up, we're off to Mountain Point - an old favorite of SwimVacation. The group was calm and relaxed - for a second it looked like ReadVacation. Will took the time to go over swim videos with a few of our guests so they could think about some efficiencies on the next swim. We moored at Mountain Point and Chad put out a fantastic spread of meats and cheeses for lunch. More quiet time before our afternoon swim...the sun and breeze might have caused more than one or two of us to doze off for a minute....thankfully I'm the photographer and no one thinks to pick up a camera when I'm napping under the kayak...
230 and we dived in at Mountain Point. Into the wind and swell we charged, the promise of more amazing reef life beneath was enough to propel us forward. Nicole exalted at a school of her new favorite fish, the Blue Tang. Jenny had a few minutes with a four eyed butterfly fish. Sonia and Natalie enjoyed the structure of the reef and the sheer volume of fish. And Mark? Well, Mark just swims and swims! I love the fact that on the heels of a wild dolphin encounter, this group can still appreciate the little things beneath the waves. No jaded swimmers here.
As we returned to the boat, a few put on snorkel gear and made for the sea cliffs nearby. A hawksbill turtle decided to stick with us and give us a show for a while. These folks will go home with more than one or two close encounter stories, and pictures to prove it all.
We're motoring down to Norman Island now. I'm down here doing some work I neglected during my power nap, but the group is up on deck enjoying the view and a round of bushwackers and snacks prepared by our man Chad. Felix is at the helm.
I'll wrap up for now and go up for the last hour of our ride - i love this point in the trip when our guests become fully acclimated to the climate and scenery around them here. It's like the islands belong to them now, and they to the islands too.
PS. Another amazing sunset on our way to our mooring at the caves of Norman. Fab dinner and chatter through the evening. Talk of a skinny dip soon....I'd better wrap this up!