Downtown Crowd, March 2018: Midnight In Paris

At long last, beach weather.

Surely this is the best time of year in Pensacola. The tourism season is still a few weeks off; the weather is warm but not yet blistering, gardens are in bloom. It just feels good to be outside.

Soon enough I’ll be back in the water with my net, hunting for shells by day and blue crab by night. I recently mentioned to my colleagues my theory that one can’t fully appreciate Pensacola until you get out on, and in, the water.

Not having a boat, nor any friends with one, I’m excited for the start of the ferry service between downtown, Fort Pickens and Pensacola Beach, now just two months away. It was recently announced that ticket prices will be no more than $20 for adults for a full day of hop-on, hop-off trips.

While than can get pricey for large groups, I think motoring across the bay from downtown to Fort Pickens and back will be an experience well worth $20.

I particularly hope that anyone who has never been on a boat in Pensacola Bay makes a point to takes the ferries at least once. You gain a better appreciation for the area and its different parts when you see them from the water. You can understand why early explorers praised Pensacola for its sheltered bay.

What’s more, people who get out and enjoy nature are more likely to care about it and want to see it protected. Perhaps this is overly optimistic, but I would love to see a groundswell of support grow for the restoration of the bay. That’s not to say support doesn’t exist – project GreenShores was completed more than a decade ago, after all ¬– but local officials don’t talk about the return of the bay scallop in any way close to the way they do about economic development.

Many folks don’t know that it is actually illegal to harvest scallops west of the Gulf County/Bay County line due to their scarcity. Some day, I’d like to be able to take my net down into the bay and return home with a bucket full of crab and scallop, ready for the boiling pot.

I’m hopeful that the ferries are a step in that direction.

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