March 22: Day 4
Day 4: Rain Delay
A quiet, restful night under a brilliant smattering of stars in Muskmelon bay dawned a bit chillier and calm. Ever the guinea pig (and also the newbie guide on this trip), I hopped into the water to see if the overnight rain and breeze had pushed our unwelcome tentacle-d friends out of the bay. A few strokes in, I was thinking we would have a nice clear water for portrait-shooting and spotted eagle ray seeking, but a few strokes later, I took a stinging lash to the nose, as the nasty jellies found my face. Yelping like a kicked dog, I raced back to the boat as quickly as I could. With that, we decided to move the boat to another location for our morning swim.
As we got underway, the heavens opened up with a drenching rain that stayed with us off and on most of the day. After an hour’s trip, we landed at the mangroves at Beef Island where Heather led us in an impromptu “Nature Swim” in shallow water, pointing out interesting creatures and flora as we went. We saw upside-down jelly fish, sea cucumbers, starfish, and more during our journey through the green shallows. Heather was a wealth of information about everything we saw, from the worm sand volcanoes to the tiny coral trees that looked like something out of “Horton Hears a Who.” Debbie found a particularly beautiful sea star that was probably not too thrilled to be lifted from the bottom to serve as the perfect example of pentamerous symmetry. But he was a great teacher and also helped Carter become a friendly Christmas Tree, star on top and all.
Setting out for a snorkel / swim at the Beef Island mangroves. Walt and Trudi stop to take it all in. Fitzy takes a flying leap off a sand bar.
Back aboard the boat, we enjoyed some surprise homemade chocolate chip cookies, courtesy of Kerry, as we motored over to our second swim spot for the day. We dropped anchor in White Bay, Peter Island, around the bend from where we had come ashore a few days ago to explore the Peter Island Resort. Once we got there, we enjoyed a lunch of grilled chicken and burgers that really hit the spot, but put all three of the SwimVacation guides to sleep. That whole “Swim, Relax, Repeat” mantra is a bit tougher for guides to pull off, given that our first order of business is looking out for the guests, but we embraced it today with a brief afternoon nap.
But the show must go on, and we roused ourselves for the second swim of the day, despite a blowing wind and chill drizzle that crept in on cat’s feet while we slept. We all jumped off the stern and headed for the beach where we split into two relay teams—remarkably evenly matched—for a short sprint relay race around the buoy for fun and to practice our buoy turns. Carter brought it home in a tight race against Fitzy for the title of Promenade’s Fastest.
Getting ready for our White Bay swim. Team Sea Lice & Team Stingers (Sea Lice won...by only a tentacle!)
Afterwards, we went for a long, slow swim along the reef in White Bay, checking out the sea life and practicing the pointers Carter had given us after reviewing our swim videos last night. We ended up spending about two hours in the water swimming and playing. Walt, Debbie, Dan, Fitzy and I ended our swim trailing a snub-tailed ray along the shallow bottom for a while. We got to watch him try to bury himself under loose, yellow algae while keeping a watchful eye on us as we clumsily swam several feet above, snapping pictures and marveling at his soaring underwater beauty. Finally, we left our ray, now named Ray, to his own devices, and came back on board for cocktail hour, which consisted of Bushwhackers and Virgin Pina Coladas.
After the unsettled weather all day, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset, sparkling and glinting on the water. The wind still raged at moments, but we settled in for supper—tuna steaks on the grill with Spanish rice and veggies. Another delicious dinner and dessert later, and we settled in to talk-story about marine critters and their secret underwater lives.
After dinner, the rain and wind descended again, and we walled up inside the tarps. Soon, though, we were treated to a show by several Horse-Eyed Jack fish swimming around the stern. Felix grabbed some bait and started in on the work of landing one of these big fish. Perhaps we’ll have sushi for dinner tomorrow?
Sunset in White Bay, Peter Island.
For now, however, it’s time to hit the hay and rest up for our last full day on SwimVacation. It’s hard to believe how quickly the week has gone and sad to think how soon we’ll be saying good-bye to our new friends. But the good news is, there are still a few more swims to come.