This summer the Nichols family has taken extra passengers on their boat trips.
Several weeks ago, Barbara Nichols noticed a duck had laid eggs inside their boat which is kept out of the water on her Lake Wylie property in a cove near Tega Cay.
"It's crazy. One day there were seven eggs sitting on the red canvas inside the boat," she said. "We were like 'Uh oh, what do we do?' We were afraid the mother wouldn't come back if we touched them. We wanted to give them the best chance for survival, but still use our boat."
So they tip-toed around the eggs, not disturbing them during family and friends boating trips during the last month.
"When we'd go down to the boat, she'd look at us. But she left us alone," Nichols said. "She stayed on the eggs when we lowered the boat into the water until we turned the motor on."
The mother would waddle onto the seat, jump into the water and swim away, only to be waiting when the family returned from their boat trip. The mother would fly to the pier and place herself on top of her eggs.
Then Monday, the Nichols family was surprised to find that two baby ducklings had hatched. And for this holiday boat trip, the mother duck stayed on her babies for a ride on the lake, Nichols said.
"That's a very strong maternal instinct to stay on with us the whole time we were on the boat," she said.
The mother took off when they got to a friend's Labor Day party, but was waiting back in the cove for the Nichols' boat to return a few hours later and perched herself on top of her eggs and ducklings.
A third duckling was pecking through its shell at that time. As of Thursday, four of the seven ducklings had hatched. Nichols helped the little babies off the boat into the lake.
Nichols named the fourth duckling 'Hope' because they hope to reunite her with other ducks when they are nearby their cove.