Friday, November 9, 2012

The Manatee Story

The Manatee Story

There are signs around the marina warning about Manatee’s in the area and how to go dead slow to keep them safe. Well we were here for several months and even though we had driven to the south edge of Tampa Bay to see Manatees where they congregate in the warm outflow of a energy plant, we never saw any, anywhere else. Of course they would make the local evening news like when a group of them got stranded in a fresh water lake near the coast after Debbie when the Gulf waters receded. Then there was a bit of local hysteria when a tourist woman over on the beach at Ft. DeSoto was seen swimming on the back of a Manatee and several people video tapped her and turned it over to the news stations and the Police. The Police soon found out who it was and she got a big fine. Where we are from it is Don’t Mess With Texas, but here it is Don’t Mess with our Manatee’s! It’s ok to mess with there Burmese pythons; in fact you can take them home. And I don’t think they care if you mess with the Gators either, You could probably take a pick load home if you wanted.

This is where she fell in
The Best Manatee Story though happened just a stones throw from Wand’rin Star. There is a small dock that several people use to launch their Kayak’s from. Also you usually see one or two people fishing from this dock even though fishing is not supposed to be allowed in the marina. There is a couple that have this blue double Kayak and they often store it on this dock, I have seen them go out often in the evenings to fish coming back in after dark. Well the story goes that the sister of the woman who owns the blue kayak was visiting from out of town. They decided to come down and just go kayaking. The sister had never been in a Kayak before. She was also a bit on the heavy side. As she attempted to board the Kayak the kayak flipped over and she went into the Bay. After she got here head up she stretched out her legs and discovered she was actually in very shallow water. The water was just above her knees. Her sister realized she may need some help to get her little bit heavy sister out of the water and back up onto the dock, she noticed a couple of guys down the dock and went to ask for their assistance. The woman in the water began to realize she was not standing on the bottom, in fact she was standing on a Manatee. The two men came quickly and carefully pulled her back up onto the dock. The big Manatee just patiently waited until she was up on the dock safe then swam slowly away.
Eventually as more and more people around the Marina talked about seeing Manatee’s here we started keeping a sharper lookout. Finally one morning I saw a mom and pup swimming parallel to a long dock and I just walked along side and observed, they swam away. A week later we were returning from the store and the Admiral sighted them and she got some pics but they were farther away and you could just see parts of them.

I was pulling all 300' of anchor chain out here on the dock when I saw a mom and pup manatee

Had to get all the stuff out of the locker, Crawl in, disconnect the chain from the strong point and replace the connection with a 3/4" line long enough so I could cut it free if I had to.

It was time for me to clean out the anchor locker and make sure our two anchors were ready to go again. I recently read an account of a West Coast Sailor who had to cut loose his anchor rode fast to save his boat. He had all chain rode but he was smart enough to have connected the bitter end of the chain with a piece of line to the strong point in his anchor locker so all he had to do to get free of his anchor in increasing dangerous conditions was to cut the line and just dump his anchor and rode. He was again smart enough to connect a fender to the chain so he could come back later and retrieve his anchor and rode. This left enough of an impression on me that I wanted to modify my chain to do the same thing as my chain was connected to the strong point in the anchor locker and It would be very difficult to get free of the anchor if a situation developed that conditions were bad and it would be dangerous or impossible to retrieve all the chain and anchor. See the story at: .

I took the time to take out all the chain and line, remark it at intervals making it easy to know how much you have out when anchoring. I ran the wash down pump, and the windless to make sure everything was good to go.

It was a 5 hour job all in all, but when I was pulling the 300” of chain out on the dock the mom and pup Manatee were right there by our boat barely moving, I ran to get the camera and was able to get some neat shots of them just a few feet away. Darn the Admiral was back in Ft. Worth visiting her parents for a week.

The very next morning I popped out of the boat and there they were again. This time they stayed right there for over 30 minutes just floating near the bow of the boat. Here are just a few of the pics I took:

This 60' Azimut was all white before we left for Austin.
When I got back to the Marina from our trip to Austin I noticed this new boat docked out at the end of our dock. The next day I went down to see my friend John who is in the slip right next and realized this was "Hiatus" A boat that was all white when I left. There was a two man crew down there still painting the Hull. I asked several in the Marina why did he decide to paint the hull red? No one liked it. It was sort of unsettling why would someone take a beautiful boat and do this to it? Well the following day I found out he was a Razorback Fan. Mystery solved, all is fair when it comes to supporting your Alma Mater. While I am not at all about to repaint Wand'rin Star Burnt Orange, I have a Texas sized Horns flag to fly when I'm feelin it!. 

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