The Road to Crystal River is a long one
Crystal River is about an hour and a half north of Orlando. It gave us a chance to see what Hurricane Irma had done in Central Florida. A few trees here and there and a lot of mangled billboards. Our tour guide had brought along video tapes to entertain us as well. She popped in Night at the Museum, Secret of the Tomb. That certainly helped to pass the time.
Get Ready to Get Wet
Once in the town of Crystal River we stopped at a small shop to pick up our wet suits. They are $10.00 per suit. I wasn’t sure they would have them to fit me so I brought my own from home. It’s brand new and I was going to christen it with this trip. As Madeline gave instructions for trying on the suits I was really glad I brought my own. She was talking about trying suits on without a bathing suit. Maybe they do that in Florida but we never did that in the cold New England waters. It made me question the hygiene of a rental suit.
Pontoon Boats and Manatees
Once we had our wet suits on it was off to the marina. I really lucked out as most of my group was on a large pontoon boat. My boat only took 5 people and I was #5. That meant we pulled out first and got to the first location ahead of the other boats. We spotted one Manatee and the scramble to get in the water began.
We were given a mask, snorkel and a “noodle”, a long, cylindrical piece of polyethylene foam that makes floating easy. The wet suit also makes you more buoyant. The tricky part is not kicking and using your feet. Splashing and flailing around spooks the manatees. You have to float quietly and move slowly. We were given a long list of do’s and don’ts but I shouldn’t have worried.
The manatees broke the rules right away. They swam right up to us!