The water exploded with grey skin and foam. A monstrous leather tail appeared out of nothing, thrashed, then shot towards me, waves rippling off it like a torpedo racing through the water.
I slammed my paddle down and pushed back, trying to get out of the way, but the manatee covered the twenty feet between us in a few powerful strokes and exploded into the port bow before I even put the other blade into the water.
The bow dipped and popped into the air, water shot skyward and a wave crashed onto the deck. The boat tilted sideways, righted itself, then sat still. Everything went calm.
I didn’t move for a moment. I just looked at my soaked clothes, stared at the water, and let my mind catch up. Then I laughed because what else is there to do when you’ve just been torpedoed by a manatee.