At the Helm: A unique Independence Day

By David Gee

As I write this, I am staring at a bunch of boats bobbing in the sunshine at King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach, California. Big deal, you might say. Well, it is kind of a big deal. For me anyway! Because I don’t live in L.A., or California, or on the west coast, and I traveled on an airplane to get here!

That’s right, an airplane. Those silver metal tubes that lift a couple of hundred people thousands of feet into the air and then deposit them safely in another part of the country, or world.

This was my first flight since traveling to the Miami International Boat Show in February of 2020, and as I got to the front of the TSAPrecheck line, I realized I had forgotten a few things. What needs to come out of my bag exactly? Laptop? Camera? Suspicious looking cables? What about shoes? My baseball hat? And belt? Oh, that’s right, I don’t have one on. Still, I had to consciously think through some of these basics.

The flight itself was easy, thankfully. The middle seat was open between me and a quiet woman seated at the window. Everyone was polite and pleasant, and a movie or two after takeoff, I was staring at the Pacific as we landed at LAX.

The airport just embarked on a $1.7 billion expansion project, and the chief executive, Justin Erbacci, told the Los Angeles Times he expects the airport to reach pre-pandemic levels (84 million passengers annually) by mid-summer.

The president of Delta said domestic leisure travel will be 100% restored by the end of June, and that summer 2021 bookings are actually ahead of 2019. Business and international travel has yet to rebound, though airline execs say they see signs of a “future recovery.”

I have walked and hiked over 180 miles since arriving in the South Bay of L.A. and I see signs of recovery everywhere. Maskless people on the beach, as well as biking, surfing, playing volleyball and happily eating and drinking at bars and restaurants.

Obviously coming to terms with the pandemic, and its psychological, social and economic toll on millions of people, is a much longer and more complicated process than simply removing a mask, re-opening a previously closed business or getting on an airplane.

But it’s a start! So as we take to the water this 4th of July, ostensibly to celebrate our freedom from British rule, we can also begin to celebrate some other freedoms as well, many of which we may very well have taken for granted.

Happy Boating!

David Gee is the content director for Boating Industry.

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