De-Icing and Home away from Home


  Photo Mar 22, 7 10 25 AMPhoto Mar 22, 7 09 46 AM

De-icing in Maine.

I won't lie. This winter has nearly killed me.

I love my home in Maine, but too many times this year I have cried Uncle. Leaving my family is always very hard. But I think if I didn't get out of this winter, I might not make it through. Sounds dramatic, I know. But I am a sun fish.

4:30 am: Early departure from home yesterday with local friend and guest Chris. We met up with guide Alina at Portland Jetport. We boarded, and the de-icing began. I nearly cried as the mechanical arms crawled over our plane, spraying us with God knows what so we could take off. I'm de-icing. I'm going to be warm. Soon.

We booked an ambitious itinerary for travel to the islands this trip. Tight connections in both Philly and San Juan. If I wasn't flying, I was running at a dead sprint. One little hiccup left me stranded in San Juan for an extra two hours - I had sent Chris and Alina ahead as I had to collect a checked bag of equipment. At first it felt like a hassle and a pain, but the forced break actually gave me a chance to ease into island time. Gather thoughts about the coming week, feel the heat slowly envelop me. I changed into summer wear and flip flops. Shoulders drop. Take a breath. I'm warm.

Photo Mar 22, 7 31 34 AMPhoto Mar 22, 1 12 19 PM

Take off in Maine, landing in San Juan.

I got to co-pilot the small prop plane for the 17 mile hop from San Juan to Tortola. The pilot let me hold the chart so I could identify the islands as we soared by. I love having this overview of our swimming grounds as we approach. There was a guy in the back of our plane, kinda being loud and a know it all. He held court for much of the ride, to nobody's wishes. As Peter and Norman Islands came into view, he started "guestimating" how far apart they were. He said 2 miles. I turned around and chimed in.

Me: It is 3.8 miles from White Bay Peter Island to the mouth of the Bight at Norman.

Him: No, it's about 2 (He looked at me condescendingly).

Me: Nope, it's 3.8.

Him: How do you know that ("little girl" was what he didn't say, but just barely)?

Me: I swam it.

Boom. This plane is mine.

Photo Mar 22, 5 03 00 PMPhoto Mar 22, 5 03 05 PM


Co-pilot duties: navigation and landing at Beef Island, Tortola

The conversation sort of went from there, discussing different harbors and wildlife sightings, and it really sunk into me how swimming in these waters gives us an intimacy with the BVI that you can't really get any other way. I know this place.

By the time I arrived at Village Cay Marina, Alina and Chris had met up with Guide Simon, who is here on his first SwimVacation. Appropriately challenging that he was first to arrive, as he had to discover the lay of this place himself, and felt at home by the time they met up with him. I had the solo cab ride to feel the heat, greet the Sea from cliff top roads. I reunited with my friends and felt like home.

Photo Mar 22, 5 56 02 PMWe met up with repeat guest Carter (Guide Will's brother) and by 630 we were all enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail. A little over 12 hours and I'm here. It's comforting to know this place, this warmth, is always just a half a day away.

As I said in a text to my husband last night, "If I can't be home, it's good to be home". And really, with another massive winter storm bearing down on Maine for Wednesday, I'd rather be here than anywhere.

Lots of little things to do this morning to get ready for our charter start at Noon. I can't wait to get started and watch as our guests discover a home here too.

- Heather