The following day, we got to go on a cruise around Clearwater and into the Gulf of Mexico to see dolphins. The trip had been canceled the week prior due to cold weather and rough seas, but this time the water was calm enough for us to venture out, though it was by no means warm! One guest appeared in a knitted toque and scarf, which made many chuckle quietly at first, but then look on with envy when the cool air was further chilled by wind velocity.Our captain and his mate were primed to follow any dolphins that might appear, but we passengers had to keep an eye out as well for the black fins that dart out of the water and quickly disappear. On our way to the mouth of the Clearwater harbour area, we passed a nest of ospreys, perched on a navigation marker in the channel. The eggs had just hatched a day or two earlier, and Captain John slowed as we passed so we could catch a glimpse. Mama and papa osprey kept a steely eye on us, but we did see a couple of downy heads bobbing above the rim of the nest before we left them in peace.
Just as we entered into the wider gulf, someone called out “dolphins!”, and we sped toward the spot. The dolphins love to play, and often will come behind a speeding boat and frolic in its wake. This bunch was not interested, or was too far away, and there were whitecaps out in the open water, so we turned back toward more sheltered water.
Moments after we passed the osprey family again, Fawn shouted “dolphins!” and Captain John wheeled us around in hot pursuit. In no time, two magnificent creatures were weaving in and out of our foamy wake, popping up for air from time to time to great cheers from the passengers. It was wonderful to see them so close up!
Water creatures of a completely different ilk garnered cheers yesterday in our own RV park’s swimming pool. It was the first annual duck race! Scores of yellow rubber duckies, individually numbered, bobbed in the water while one team propelled them toward a narrow passage with water guns, and another squirt gun team on the other side of the finish line tried to keep them out. Whoever had put money on the first duck through was the winner of $55. Spectators, many of whom were dressed in St Patrick’s Day green, quacked and cheered, and wayward squirts of water from pool side upped the fun factor. Our duck, Number 64, did not win any of the five races, but amazingly, Number 4 won twice in a row! What are the odds? Guess it was the luck of the Irish.