Date: 16 November 2019. Mucket the
This mallard duo ↑
arrived one day. It was lovely to see a pair of ducks enjoying
Today I'll share with you a brief
vignette about life aboard a boat in the early 1960's. Although
Mucket the mallard drake was not my first pet, he was one of the more memorable ones.
This is a trip down Memory Lane came about because the Kidlet
mentioned seeing mallards when she was up north.
This is my Kidlet aka Baby, and the
Kidlet recently traveled to Virginia for her career
with Navy Federal Credit Union. While there she and a
colleague took a brief trip over to the District of Columbia
(Washington, DC) to do a bit of sight-seeing. In one of the
ponds they spotted some ducks with dark green heads.
Baby was able to recognize the mallards and shared
said information with her coworker.
Washington, DC circa 2019
The Lincoln Memorial
In any event, we know ducks in our family. This
mallard duo visited Seaweed a few times.
(pre-teenagers, so to speak) both males and females look like the
hen on the left in the above photograph. They are a mottled brown.
The way to identify gender just after the duckling stage is to look
at the beak. A drake will have a greenish tinge around the sides of
his beak. Hers would be orange.
Later the male's head will turn
dark green, with a rusty brown chest and grey sides. He will also
grow a curled feather (or two) at his butt. Other drakes will
attempt to rip out the curled feathers when they are fighting to
Here is a better photograph of two fully grown
*drakes. This picture
was taken by my friend Cheryl.
You might notice almost invisible in the
grass a mallard *hen facing
away from the camera.
** Drakes and Hens: Male mallards
are called drakes. The females are known as hens.
Mucket the mallard duckling came into my life when he was approximately three days
old. I rescued him. He'd been pulled
completely under the water by a turtle. As he bobbed to the surface a bird of prey grabbed
him! This happened in the early 1960's. I believe it could have been an
osprey however due to the sands of time I cannot be certain...
Picture of osprey:
An osprey is sitting atop a channel marker. Photo taken by Irene
onboard S/V Katja.
Back to Mucket's
story: I was in my dinghy rowing along
a shoreline, exploring. As soon as the duckling popped back up to
the surface he was grabbed by the hunting bird. This was not
ten feet from me. I screamed at the bird, splashed water with my
oars and the duckling was dropped back into the water.
Also know that if you're decent at
rowing you can learn to take your oar and aim water within a dozen
feet with amazing accuracy. When younger I could have gotten people
who annoyed me wet, if I was that sort of boat girl that is.
Algae has an oar visible on the far side of the
dinghy. A group of pelicans surround Algae. The
previously published article
Dallas and the Pelican
has some great pictures of a friendly pelican.
How to drench your
enemy with an oar: Rotate the oar so the paddle is
nearly horizontal. The front facing your intended victim should be
slightly (1" or so) higher than the rear. Next
move the paddle away from your target. Now bring the paddle down and
forward toward the victim. You want to slap the surface of the water, aiming toward the person who annoyed you.
This is the way I
might have splashed someone,
accidentally of course, some 50-plus years ago.
Water children have the best times
Hailey Mei is Cap'n Edwin's beautiful grand. She's already a boat
tale of Mucket: The duckling fell back into the
water. I captured this small creature and
took him home. Home was a 40' boat. I told you about that vessel in
The Fishing Boat
Back then this boat
↓ was home. I was born and
raised aboard her. It was a good life.
The duckling was named Mucket by a friend of ours, Captain Bob. Bob
Skinner lived aboard a 110' Canadian air-sea rescue boat. Actually
his boat was along the lines of the Presidential yachts. It was Very
nice. Bob even had a full sized cannon on the bow of his boat. He'd
shoot grapefruit out of it. That was fun, though the cannon was
Have I mentioned
boat kids have the best times?!?
This is my duo ↑
aboard our tow boat. Daddy ran a towing service
in the days before TowBoatUS and SeaTow dominated the field.
duckling was not with his nest mates. I suspect he was sick or injured.
In any event, the mom duck had left him behind.
Mucket the mallard duckling had a
limp when first captured. That may have been from the turtle pulling
him underwater. The limp eventually disappeared. Mucket became my pet.
Ducks poop, a lot. Mucket lived
under an upside down laundry basket. Mostly he followed me
around. He would go swimming with me too, diving under the water
just like me. He bobbed up quickly. Mallards are buoyant.
If I was off our boat and he was
hungry he would quack until Mother turned him loose. Then he would
waddle up the dock quacking all the way. Mucket had a distinctive
voice. He would use it until he found me. Mucket enjoyed his corn.
My duckling initially ate canned
corn, then Mucket was switched to cracked corn as he grew larger. He would follow me up the
dock when I was heading ashore. Once he was about half grown he was
free to come and go.
Eventually Mucket did fly away.
I called and called for him. He never answered. That was a sad
period of time for me. Although I wanted him to grow up and be a
duck, I also wanted my feathered boy to be My Duck forever too.
A few years later
Mucket was flying south. I believe he recognized
our boat. He and his mate stopped in for a visit while we were at anchor. We
were a long way from where he was initially rescued. Mucket had traveled with
us for a few months while he was growing up.
Our boat was distinctive. The hull
was light green at that time, while most vessels were either white
or light blue. That is one of the reasons why I believe he
recognized the boat. I know for certain it was the same duck. The
coloration of the head and chest, including his white strip was
Mucket knew me right away. He flew
up onto the
back deck of our boat as soon as he heard my voice.
The white back deck is about 10"
wide. There is an overhang with storage below for mops and such.
When I was a little girl we had a laundry line strung
under there. That is where my bathing suits dried.
Mucket's mate stayed in the
water. She received homemade bread.
The mallards that visited Seaweed
got Dollar Store bread. They were not impressed.
My Mucket received a can of
corn. That was his favorite treat.
This is a picture ↓
of the mallard duo that visited Seaweed a few times
earlier this year.
That day at anchor the last time I saw
Mucket. He was doing well. Alas, there
no photographs of Mucket although I still see him in my memories on
And that's the story of Mucket.
started a new category for those who are interested in stories
from yesteryear. The page with links to related articles is
Thank you for reading.
What is your most favorite pet?
Is there a particular story that always comes to mind when
you think of said critter?
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