I've mentioned a few times in the past about my cousin Jim Kaplan who is originally from Indiana, but lives out here in Los Angeles now with his family and has a life-long love of boats. Growing up on the Indiana Dunes of Lake Michigan, he worked in the family department store in Gary, a wonderful place called H. Gordon & Sons. (Harry Gordon was my mother's grandfather.) But it was always boats that were his joy, And since moving to L.A., he's worked in the marine industry for decades.
I've told of my first adventure with Jim on a boat in Los Angeles many years ago, a small craft that was affectionately dubbed "Kaplan's Folly," when he agreed to take the tub down to San Diego for a client, and I signed on as one of the four-person crew, leaving port before dawn broke. We only made it about halfway, because the old piece of junk started leaking worse than all the Trump whistleblowers put together, and we happily were able to make it to shore safely.
We ditched the thing, told the owner he was on his own for what to do with it, and called Jim's dear wife Olga to pleased drive down several hours to pick us up. The one good thing is that we did see a school of dolphins when we were at sea.
Since then, Jim has bought a few small sailboat/motorboats of his own, and they've clearly fared much better, which is obvious since he hasn't been drowned. They've each done their duty until the sea and time took its toll on them, and it was time to let them be. And a few years ago, he decided to dive in once more, and got the now-christened Flying Fish III.
Those are mostly the tales I've told over the past 2-3 years, how he's invited to head out to sea with him, and I've joined him on new tales of the high seas maybe once a month -- sometimes more, sometimes less -- and we even made it through inopportune squall back in 2019.
Trust me, this below of the Commodore doesn't do the squall justice, since pouring rain and high winds don't come through photos very well. Though, interestingly they do come through most everything else impeccably, including clothes and one's bones.
Alas, one of the things that had to be cut out during the pandemic were our boat jaunts -- though "Kappy" (about as good a nickname as their is for someone who worked in the marine industry, given to him by his fellow workers) was able to start going out a month or so ago.
Which brings us to the point of this all. Since Jim and Olga have now had their two vaccinations, and I have, as well, yesterday I went on my first sea journey with Captain Ahab in over a year. Not only did we both feel safe to do so on a vaccination level, but we figured that if there was anyplace on earth that would be additionally safe during a pandemic, it would be in the middle of the ocean.
And so, it was a joy to finally do something as active and ethereally wonderful as this. And it was with great pleasure that I, at last, again got to make my traditional request when reaching the dock -- "Permission to come aboard, sir?"
And an equal pleasure to finally hear, "Permission granted."
And to Jim's everlasting credit, he continued not to get annoyed when (as is my own tradition for the heck of it) I asked the same permission each time I got off the boat at the dock when helping set up the sails and then had to get back on board.
And all the better, for this Maiden Voyage of a sort we didn't sink or get hit by a squall.
Happily, that's almost always the case -- but you never know.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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