How Waterways Can Calm Us

Florida Waterways
“How Waterways Can Calm Us”
By Kevin McCarthy


Lake Wauburg 
Drayton Island 
Hart Springs along the Suwannee 
Children paddling down the Ichetucknee River 
The Ocklawaha River 
Jacksonville Beach 

In this time of pandemic turmoil, including the sickness or loss of friends and family, we need all the help we can find to stay calm, keep our social distancing, and practice good hygiene. I suspect that a lot of us have found in the past, how much our Florida waterways (rivers, lakes, Gulf, ocean) can help us in staying resolute, having safe practices with our friends and families, and looking forward to normalcy.

Having had a heart attack several years ago, I have become much more aware of watching my health, eating well, exercising, and being more aware of my body. For example, in my visits to my family doctor and in monitoring my health at home, I have had to check my blood pressure a lot. One practice I always have when the blood-pressure sleeve tightens on my arm is to think of a lake near my home in Gainesville: Lake Wauburg. Remembering the many fun times on that lake with my family, especially in teaching my younger son to sail there, has consistently helped me to maintain a decent blood pressure.

One of my favorite islands in North Florida, Drayton, is a place I stayed while doing a history of the island south of Palatka. Reachable only by boat, the site has a history dating back several thousand years, but maintains a peacefulness where one can find respite from a busy world.

One of the great waterways of the Southeast has to be our own Suwannee River. A particular favorite site of mine along the river is Hart Springs, with its long boardwalk along the river and its many attractions for families. And kayaking or tubing down the nearby Ichetucknee River, is a relatively inexpensive way for families to have an enjoyable day together.

Another beautiful river in North Florida is the Ocklawaha, which boaters and fishermen can enjoy.
Having spent ten summers as a teenager on an island off New Jersey, I came to appreciate the salubrious effect of the ocean, something I rediscovered on our east coast. Jacksonville Beach, shown here with some seagulls, will be open again when the pandemic ends. I also spent two years living in a desert in the Middle East, in the urban setting of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The parched conditions of the surrounding area have made me appreciate the waterways of Florida, and the beneficial summer rains, even the hurricanes.

While we should be careful during and after this pandemic, we can still find lots of places along our North Florida waterways to enjoy the outdoors and hope for normal times to return.

Kevin McCarthy, the author of books on the St. Johns River, the Suwannee River, North Florida Waterways, Cedar Key, and Lake City (all available at, can be reached at

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