Hey, here’s a hopeful little scene, eh?

I was very lucky this past weekend. For starters, I’d made arrangements to have the ol’ Betty Jane II hauled out long before this pandemic struck, the point being to lightly compound her hull sides, apply a little Awlcare and then slather an annual coat of Cetol on her swim platform. I was gonna do all this stuff or at least some of it myself but the virus obtruded. So, the folks at Sadler Point Marina in Jacksonville did all the work and, afterwards, they put Betty back in the water and returned her to her slip.

But you know how it is. Even though I had great trust in the Sadler guys, I wanted to put my very own eyes on my boat “just to be sure,” as they say. I wanted the peace of mind that comes from knowing, in a totally up-close-and-personal way, that the appropriate electrical switches had been switched, the lines cleated exactly how I like them cleated and the bilge pump switched to automatic. And, when I really thought about it, I figured I could drive the whole way to the marina and back without stopping for gas or anything else, thereby sticking within all the prescribed social distancing guidelines that are so necessary today. And hey, I figured I could even pull a couple of flyfishing buffs down around my neck so that, if by some chance I ran into another human being in my travels, I could thoroughly cover up, Jesse James-style.

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Of course, I’m aware that my personal situation here in Northern Florida constitutes a rather special, exceptionally fortunate, boat-in-the-water-ready-to-go case, especially considering the horrific nature of what’s going on throughout our country and indeed the world. But on the other hand, I couldn’t see any justifiable reason why I shouldn’t pay my beloved Betty a visit. And as it turned out, I enjoyed a sun-sparkled, almost beatific afternoon jaunt as a result.

Once I got to Jacksonville and jumped aboard my boat, it didn’t take long to deal with all I had to deal with. So, with a little free time on my hands (and since I was alone and therefore socially distanced to the max), I determined that a short but absolutely sweet boat ride might be in order … down the Ortega River, through the double-leaf span of the lovely old Ortega River Bridge and then out onto the broad, sparkling St. Johns. And as luck would have it, there were a few other boats zooming around out there at the time, all of them as socially distant as I was.

Still and all, there’s no question in my mind right now—we are living through a dark, dark era. But, if you look around, there’s a fair amount of light as well. The sunshine I saw turning the water into jewelry is a case in point. You gotta love that diamonds-on-the water stuff, right? And the hazy skyline off in the distance? And all the boats?

Better days, I have to believe, are coming. Let’s hope soon.

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