We woke up this morning in Salt Bay to bright sun, blue blue skies, blue blue water. There are a couple of things that have come out of SwimVacation that I never expected. The first is returning guests. I imagined this as a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and that I’d have to find all new guests for every trip. But it turns out that more than half of our guests come back for a second, third, or ninth trip. That’s the record: nine return trips (Hey Mark!).
The other thing I didn’t expect was how important photography would be to these trips, and to SwimVacation’s success. Heather Perry joined us as a guide 8 years ago, armed with an underwater camera and a mission. Her photography career has bloomed alongside the success of SwimVacation in symbiosis. Heather shoots every trip, and some of the products are custom photo books for every guests, instagrams, marketing photos, and Facebook posts. Huge murals of her photos have been printed, and they grace the walls of many former SwimVacation guests. Today another milestone in Heather’s career happened with her work appearing on National Geographic’s Proof, which highlights some of her best photographs of swimmers.
Our morning swim brought us back to the wreck of the Rhone. On October 29,1867, the 310-foot long RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Rhone, sunk in a massive hurricane after ramming a rocky shoreline on Salt Island. Only 23 people survived, with 123 dead. Wikipedia has a great entry about the ship and her sinking. Today the Rhone is a popular dive spot, and the stern is shallow enough to see while snorkeling or to get up close to on a free dive. We swam up, as Bob handed us flippers and masks from the dinghy. We guides always enjoy showing off our aquatic prowess by diving down and swimming through a gap behind the massive bronze propeller. On the return trip, I noticed Heather and guest Amy synchro-swimming, stroke for stroke. We love those moments.
I paddled the SUP back to the Promenade ahead of the group so I could assemble the drone, which we’ve been bringing on our British Virgin Islands trips for the past few years. The clarity of the water and the hues of blue make this place ideal for aerial shots and video, and the results have been stunning.
After a second breakfast that included banana smoothies, we sailed back to Road Town to get propane. The tanks they had filled last week were impure, and the gas wouldn’t burn. This kind of thing is pretty common down here. Ok. We take the quirky with the wonderful here in the islands. These things help maintain the balance.
Another trip across the Drake Channel, and we anchored in White Bay, Peter Island. A swim, some snacks, then a night swim. We have these little blinking waterproof lights that attach to our goggle straps to keep track of everyone, but the half moon shed a lot of light on us. Some kicking and movement revealed bioluminescence, one of the great benefits of a night swim. It's a surprisingly calming experience - everything seems quieter in the dark. And tonight, the air and water temps were just perfect. We took our time getting back on board.
Keeping the balance with our calming night swim, our steak dinner was followed by some lively conversation about Diana Nyad’s Cuba to Florida swim (did she do it? is it legitimate? did she follow any type of established standards?). We've outlawed discussion of politics on SwimVacation, and after the heated debate tonight, I'm wondering if we should outlaw Nyad-talk too.....hmmmm. But worry not - no one went to bed mad. And a pre-tuck-in discussion of our big adventure to come in the morning kept us united!
Yup, these kids have a big swim tomorrow, so by 10:30 we’d all retired, dreaming of blue.