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Lake Murray Power Squadron Members
Journey Once Again to Crystal River

Eighteen Lake Murray Power Squadron members hit the highway on Friday, 15 January, toward Crystal River, Florida, to swim with the gentle giant manatees.

As we arrived and checked into the hotel, they proceeded to the dive shop to get wet suits, snorkel gear, and view the ecological rules video for their manatee adventure.

Friday evening the Ale House Restaurant provided LMPS a private room for dinner, fellowship and a captains’ meeting, where boat assignments were provided. The food and service were extraordinary, and we even had a magician to provide some entertainment for our group, leaving us amazed. Everyone had a great time and constant laughter, with a little wonder as to how the magician performed his tricks.

Saturday morning two pontoon boats loaded with squadron members left the docks at 0800, bound for Three Sisters Springs. Along the way we saw many types of wildlife, bird species and manatees resting along the sides of the canal; we knew it was going to be a good day. We were not the first to arrive, but it was not crowded, and Chuck Clark dropped the first anchor and John Hunter dropped anchor so the two boats were close together.

It didn’t take long for our members to get into the water, the air temperature was a warm, 58 degrees, the sun was shining and the water is always 73 degrees. We swam to Three Sisters Spring, which is now closed off to swimmers, as the manatee laws are becoming more stringent, so we couldn’t enter the spring.

We swam around the manatee resting areas and viewed the manatees until they started moving into the canal. It seems that the manatees wanted to play and gathered around our pontoon boats, nudging the swimmers, and then rolling over to have their bellies rubbed. Our members quickly obliged and we soon we had around 15 manatees wanting to play. Everyone in the group had an experience of a lifetime. The two grandchildren, who were with Nancy Schabacker and Kelly Lewis, were a little scared of the manatees, but as the group played with the manatees the children wasted no time getting into the water to experience the gentle giants firsthand. Teresa Clark had a manatee place its nose against her mask, making eye to eye contact.

Around 1100 we left the springs and toured Kings Bay until it was time to turn in the pontoon boats. While Kelly took a group back out after lunch for more manatee experiences, the rest of our group went to the Manatee Festival in downtown Crystal River. The festival had all the sights and sounds of a festive carnival, with local arts and crafts. At 1800 the entire group met at a local seafood restaurant and discussed the day’s experiences with some good seafood and “2 for 1” drinks.

This was one of the squadron’s best trips to Crystal River. The weather was good, the water is always a warm 73 degrees, and the manatees were really active. Check out our photos by clicking on the first thumbnail below to open the slide show. And next year, sign up to visit these gentle giants yourself!

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Updated 22 March 2017
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