Manatee SurpriseOne spring day I was out paddling and smoking a cigar when it started to rain. I quickly paddled under a large culvert under a road. I was really happy with myself watching all the morning walkers running for cover. As it tapered off to a light sprinkle, I decided to shove off. I put my paddle in and it hit something a few inches under the water.
Suddenly the world went grey as a wall of water and bottom silt went over my head. Suddenly I was in Class 3 water, swiveling my skinny kayak and bracing. After a flash of daylight I got hit with another wave, this time I caught a glimpse of a sewer lid sized grey fluke.
Then it was over as quick as it started. As I sat there with water dripping off my cigar, I realized what had happened. A very large manatee had gone right under my boat. Neither of us saw each other in the dark culvert mouth, so I accidentally poked him in the back. I laughed with relief and at how my smugness was literally drowned. I felt something in my hair, and discovered it was pieces of shell from the canal bottom that the manatee had sucked up with those two sweeps of his fluke.
My lighter stayed dry, and I got my cigar relit. As I paddled off in the sunshine I figured I was way ahead. The experience was well worth getting my shower started early.
Submitted by Robert Haston, Satellite Beach, FL
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