Sorry for the delay in getting a new post out. My arms have been too weak lately to hold over a keyboard and type. While my last post extolled the peace of a calm paddle to play with the gentle Manatees, this post will reveal the darker side of my volunteer duties namely – gale force winds and cavorting sex-starved sea creatures.
Technically I am not supposed to kayak out on volunteer duty when a small craft advisory is posted. However, those warnings are not as clear cut as I hope. One rather pessimistic news outlet seems to post a small craft advisory almost every day claiming 20 mph winds and 2-4 foot seas. They usually include the warning: “Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels should avoid navigating…” The NOAA weather service almost always predicts the wind as less than 10 mph with clear skies. So it all comes down to “using my best judgement.” Since I am not an experienced mariner, using my judgement is a questionable endeavor at best. This may also be true of my decisions even when weather forecasts are not involved, but that is another story.
While considering a “go” or “no go” kayak launch, I consult with my fellow paddlers (often Matt and Sherry) for more cautious advice. Then I channel Stormy for the devil may care adventurous choice. I may have steered a little too much toward Storm’s approach lately. Several times in the last few days I strain all my upper body muscles paddling against 24 mph gusts trying to make headway in a kayak. The best I can do under those conditions is to attempt to control the direction in which I am blown backwards.
In addition to the wind, the Manatee have also been stirring up excitement on the water. On Matt and Sherry’s training session for kayaking, we are treated to a Manatee orgy. We wisely keep our distance from the aquatic pandemonium while trying to catch the shenanigans on video.
This mating ritual occurs when a female in heat finds herself under attack by several amorous males. If she is unable to adequately defend herself she can be drowned before they let her up for air. A person in a tiny kayak definitely does not want to be too near this multi-ton free for all.
In fact, the males are the lightweights in this drama as the female Manatees are usually heavier due to the additional weight of their child bearing equipment. How about that ladies? I think we should get credit for the additional weight of our reproductive organs. No more dieting – we are the correct weight for our gender!
Carol of the Lovesick Manatees
Before I forget – Merry Christmas to all of you who so kindly follow my blog. I hope that that the New Year will be filled with Joy, Laughter and Love for you. To get that started, I created a bizarre combination of Christmas Music and Manatee Mating video to celebrate the holiday season with you. Check that out below.
A Cautionary Tale
Knowing the danger of disturbing Manatees in heat, one might think folks would exercise caution and avoid these sessions. But I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness what happens when someone takes a 35 lb kayak up against 6000-8000 lbs of hormonally crazed sea mammals. On a watch session to protect the sanctuaries last week, a new volunteer ignores our repeated warnings to steer clear of a group of love starved Manatee near one of the warm springs. Instead of giving the group a wide berth, this person choses instead to paddle right up into the middle of the whole shebang.
An eruption of Manatee tails and bodies catapults paddler and kayak a few feet up into the air. Among a tempest of thrashing tails, the kayak flips and its occupant is thrown for a swim with the group of lustful lovers. Lucky for the kayaker, members of our watch group are able to pull them (uninjured thankfully) free of the pack. Maintaining a Manatee free buffer zone, we also recover the vessel and the jetsam and flotsam that flies out during the upheaval. With the help of a nearby Tour Boat operator we get the mis-guided paddler back into their boat and send them home to dry out.
In closing, I want to thank Matt and Sherry. They have been kind enough to chauffeur me around to nearby attractions during the last few weeks allowing me to nap in the backseat while they drive. I get to recover from all that paddling and enjoy the holiday decorations and scenery at the same time. Here are photos from our excursions.