by Thane Gilliam, s/v Heart of Gold
Sometimes you pick your animal companion and sometimes your animal companion is thrust upon you. Such was the way of Nancy Franetti and Jeff Stringfield, owners and operators of The Electric Marina in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida where they are building their cruising kitty renting various water toys including electric boats to folks that would like to spend a little quality time on the water.
Nancy and Jeff had recently lost their longtime companion and best friend Surfergirl, an Australian Shepherd, and seriously doubted if they could ever replace her when Seawall the Duck waddled into their life.
As the story goes, one day a major storm had blown in and Nancy and Jeff were closing the Electric Marina early when they happened to look down and next to the seawall was a tiny duckling. They had no idea where this frail little thing had come from but they were certain that, in it’s present state, it had absolutely no chance of survival. The poor thing was being slammed against the seawall by the ever-increasing wave action and could make no headway. Even worse, there were sea creatures below the water that would delight in dining on a quick meal of duckling and the predators of the air had the same thing in mind.
Fortunately for this little duck, Nancy had some experience in duckling nurturing and took the little bird under her wing. From that day on Seawall and Nancy have been inseparable. Seawall has his own duck house at home and loves the ride into the marina everyday in the car. Nancy and Jeff enjoy cruising the waters of western Florida on their 31 foot sailboat, Rastus, and Seawall just loves to come along.
Seawall looks after the marina and serves as goodwill ambassador by greeting everyone who stops to visit. Hel also loves his two stuffed friends Quakers the Duck and Beer Bear. Seawall sleeps with them every night and takes them along to the marina when he heads in to work.
Nancy and Jeff agree that the time has come in Seawall’s life for him to become the full time “Duckmaster” at the Electric Marina. He will be staying at the marina twenty-four hours a day greeting visitors, providing security and delighting all who visit.
They also realize that the time will likely come when Seawall will begin to experience those natural urges that we all feel sooner or later and take off to ports unknown. Though they will most certainly miss him, they know that it is for the best and will wish him well on his duck adventures and hope he will drop in for a visit next time he flies through the area.
If you happen to be in the St. Petersburg, Florida area sometime, drop your hook in the Vinoy Basin and dinghy over to the Electric Marina. Say hi to Nancy and Jeff and spend a little time with Seawall the Duck. They all will be happy to see you and you will leave assured that you have surely met a true lucky duck.