It was the perfect day to earn our Kayaking Certificate of Achievement. The weather at Cocoa Beach in March is ideal for kayaking and seeing wildlife. Taliah and her mother, Carmen, grandmother, Janice, and I celebrated Taliah’s twelfth birthday with a manatee-dolphin party in the mangroves of the Banana River.
We paddled along the Banana River with our guide on a balmy 70-degree day hoping to catch a glimpse of some dolphins out fishing. Our guide first spotted a lazy manatee cruising along the canal through a housing area hoping to find some friendly humans.
Meeting Mr. Man-T
Manatees have a terrible habit of approaching boats and befriending people even if the people come via propeller boats. Their backs bear the scars of such friendships.
Today, Mr. Man-T discovered a kindred spirit in Taliah. When she tickled the water with her fingers, he maneuvered himself in place saddling up to her kayak. Somehow he knew she would pet him. You can see his white propeller scars on his back to the right of Taliah’s hand.
If Carmen moved the boat, Mr. Man-T moved too. Finally, our guide had to tear us away from Mr. Man-T to get into the open waters to see dolphins like the ads promised.
Following the Private-Eye Birds
These birds did not read their pelican briefs and led us astray on our first quest to see dolphins. But other birds ran their operation with more precision. Soon we spotted two dolphins on a fishing expedition.
The result was that during our two-hour tour, we saw the most dolphins our guide had spotted in his thirty years of dolphin tours. Once we got on the high seas, there were many more dolphins, but they were farther away and harder to photograph.
While that may be a slight exaggeration, I won’t apologize because he had his “This was the best show in thirty years” attitude, even if it was just an attitude.
Every time he spotted a group of birds sitting on the dock inspecting the water below his enthusiasm exploded. He would lead us through the water towards the next school of dolphins. We paddled towards them as quickly as we could gliding in gentle circles and S-curves through the water.
Entering the Mangrove Tunnel of Doom
Nearing the two-hour mark, our guide thought he could lose us in the Tunnel. Leading us in single file, we battled the barnacle-covered mangroves slathered with barnacles. In spite of a few false starts and nearly losing a paddle or two to the aggressive water trees, we emerged unscathed.
Exiting the Banana River
By the end of the second hour, my wrists hurt, but my heart was full. Our guide started speeding towards our landing spot just as the sky let loose of the future waters of Banana River.
Weighed down by all the water, it was all I could do to emerge ungracefully from the kayak without going for a swim in the brackish water. Carmen tried to lend me a hand. After nearly pulling her in, I decided to turn and push myself out using the boat as a solid surface. (That’s funny, by the way!)
No picture (hahaha).
By that time it did not matter how wet I got. If the river below hadn’t soaked me, the river above our heads did an excellent job.
What fabulous activities on one of your trips gave you the thrill of a lifetime?
Though this isn’t a walk, it is a journey. For more walks/journeys check out: