When it feels most like home.

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_HPP1216 Cue mandatory SwimVacation Rainbow.

Good morning Norman!

We were all a little slow out of our racks this morning after the evening's raucousness. But what's the rush? We're still on vacation, even though it's the last day.

Our swim on the western side of Norman Island is one of my favorites in the BVI. We usually start at the caves, follow the shore around the inside corner and all the way out to Angelfish Reef, the southern and western most point of the BVI. It's a dramatic spot, with a little swell and some wind. Lots of cool wildlife. I like to take a group photo there and today I managed to get myself in there too with our trusty GoPro.

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All of us together at Angel Fish reef.

True to its name, the swim to Angelfish reef is home to tons of angelfish. I have yet to figure out exactly why angelfish prefer this spot, but I love that I can count on them to be there. Today's compliment of angelfish was particularly exceptional, with many juvenile queens and some mature Grey and French. I even pointed out a juvenile spotted drum, which I rarely see, but when I do, it's here at Norman. There was a turtle and squid in the mix, a puffer and schools of tang and sergeant majors. An aquarium.

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Carter and Simon both noted how I tend to look for the little things on the reef. It's true. Rays and dolphins and other marine mega fauna are great, but if you wait around to see them, you won't see much most of the time. The little guys - they are a sure thing. And in many cases every bit as interesting and impressive as the big guys. Everything has its place in the sea.

We finished up the swim at the caves in a sudden and phenomenal rain. We haven't had a drop this week, and being in the water made it fun to get poured on. Quickly the clear water became foggy with run off, and we could smell wet earth in the air. The atmosphere changed so quickly. Worlds, elements colliding, and we are there at the cusp. We swam into the last two and Simon and Chris were brave and went all the way to the back. They estimated it to be about 70 feet. They also came back without finding Blackbeard's treasure. Still a mystery.

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We headed back to good old White Bay for our lunch (an assortment of the incredible meal leftovers we'd had all week) and some relaxing before our afternoon swim.

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When I wasn't in the water today, I spent most of the day in my photo cave, also known as the salon - finishing my editing and putting together a slideshow of our week. Friday is tough for me on SwimVacation. Not only am I desperate to soak up every last bit of sunshine and sea, but I feel compelled to sit and chat more with my new friends - after the miles we've covered this week, i feel close to them and kinda want to hang out. But I'm on the job here after all, and so Friday is usually a day full of editing and compiling and putting it all together for our guests to enjoy.

 

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As a side note: I've been really lucky this week to have friends on the boat in Chris and Carter. Chris kept me tethered to home with hugs in the morning. Carter kept me laughing. Every day this week, when I'd be tucked away somewhere working, I'd get a text from him with some goofy picture. He uses the an app on his phone to distort his face. Out of the blue these ridiculous pictures would arrive and his timing was usually perfect. Thanks for the hugs and laughter guys.

We planned to jump in at White Bay at 230. As I watched our guests grab their goggles and caps from the basket for the last time, I noticed how at home they each looked. Like all of our guests after a week on Promenade, they feel like they own this boat. I do too. I started to do a swim briefing with two different options for the kinds of swims we could do here, but it seemed like everyone just wanted to say goodbye to the water their own way. They know this bay now. And they feel comfortable here. So I offered a free for all - go do what you want. Be back on the boat for 345. They jumped in and looked like they were walking through their own front doors.

Carter and I enjoyed a few long laps along the beach edge. I love swimming in shallow water over white sand. The bottom moves so quickly beneath me I feel like I'm going fast. And I really like the simplicity of the sandy bottom before my eyes - nothing to see here, nothing to think about. It becomes a meditation. It quiets my head. I can just be in the moment, in the water, and swim. Carter agreed.

Natalie dropped in for a visit, then went off back to the boat. Kendra showed up and the three of us bobbed and chatted for a while before paddling back. We didn't swim, we actually paddled, and we all admitted that the real reason we were dog paddling back was because we were all too sore and stiff to take another stroke. We swam ourselves out this week.

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Felix tends to the dinghy on Promenade. 

Back at the boat, Kendra and I put on masks and fins and did a little free diving. This is one of my favorite extra curricular activities on SwimVacation - another opportunity to quiet the mind and just be. One breath of air, down below and completely supported by water. It's become my happy place. When we got out of the water, Kendra said she'd fallen in love with swimming again. She said this trip has made her happier than she has been in the water in a long long time. Thanks for taking a chance on us Kendra. We've enjoyed reintroducing you to your passion for swimming.

Reluctantly, we all climbed aboard and showered and cleaned up for dinner while Chad piloted us back to Road Harbour, where we now sit on the dock. Dinner was fish and potatoes, and it was all gone by the time dinner was done.

Photo Mar 29, 12 03 05 AMEveryone piled into my photo cave and we watched the 15 minute wrap up of our week together. As always, when the pictures flew by, I couldn't believe how much we've done this week. We had a solid old-school SwimVacation trip, with great swims at all of our usual islands - so nice to not be running from weather.

After the show I packed up a bit, ambled around, then sat down with our guests and just relaxed. I stay on my toes on a week of SwimVacation, and having the slideshow done and blog almost caught up (almost), it was nice to just let my hair down a bit. These folks are friends now, and it's great to share a casual Friday night with them.

So that's all from another week of SwimVacation. We took full advantage of the weather we had this week, and swam the distance and diversity these islands have to offer.

Lucky me I'll be back in just a month's time. I'm even leaving some things here. Nothing says home like having your stuff stowed away in a space. It says, I belong here, and I'll be back soon.

As usual, we are so grateful to this boat and her crew. Captain Chad and his mates Regan and Bob, and Rebecca who was here long just enough to really miss her once she left, and of course the inestimable Felix. Thanks guys - we couldn't do what we do without you.

Once again I've managed to pass midnight on my blogging duties. Everyone has long been to bed. I don't mind being in the quiet with my thoughts on this boat, alone and awake in my photo cave, in shallow water along a sandy beach, at the bottom of the bay on a breath of air. I find stillness and peace in these places. No wonder this place heals me. No wonder it feels like home.

Soon, Caribbean. And thanks for the Yes.

- Heather.

Blog, BVI, BVI March 2014Heather