July 2003 and here we go fishing again. As I mentioned in earlier chapters, I've got this old friend from my Air Force days and he loves to fish! Whenever he hears that fishing is good in Florida, here he comes. He's about 9 hours away in South Carolina, so drives down in one day. He keeps his boat here in Florida, so just comes down in his truck. We generally spend the first day getting boat and rods set up, then are ready to go.
Once again, we stayed at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, just North of Jupiter Inlet. We've camped there four times and have never had a bad campsite. This time we were in my new 2003 Damon Challenger 36' Class A with two slides. I don't have pictures of it yet, but you can see some professional photos at DamonRV.com. If you have a fast connection, check out the 360-degree tour. I plan to have pictures of it in Chapter 51, whenever I get to it.
Learned something on this trip to JDSP. In the past, I've reserved our spot over the internet and have always clicked on Senior Citizen when filling in the info. Never occurred to me that I'm not old enough! Well, this trip we just registered at the gate -- showed my driver's license -- was told by the ranger that I'm not senior enough. So, instead of paying $14 per night, we paid $28 -- that was a bit of a surprise. Seems you have to be 65 to qualify for the half-price discount -- or you have to register over the internet .. haha.
Something else we learned was that the weatherman in Orlando doesn't really know a whole lot about the weather in Jupiter Inlet. We fished 3 days and had pretty fair weather the whole time. The first day, we got out on the water about 7 AM and quit about 3 because there were some storms brewing. That was our Bonita day -- caught and threw back about a dozen or so. They're great fighters, fun to catch, but not really great to eat. There's some way you can salt them and dry them or something, but too much trouble for not really tasty eating. First picture on the right is Buckner, showing one of the many Bonita that we caught. Second picture is the Wahoo that I caught, which provided us with dinner for the whole 3 nights that we were there, plus a freezer-full of fish to take home Caught an identical Wahoo the third day, adding a bunch more to the freezer. We each took home several pounds of delicious Wahoo steaks.
Second day, the weatherman had predicted storms all day. We got up at 5:30 as usual, looked outside and saw what looked like a fair day, so went on out. Had a fine day, caught many Bonita again, Buckner caught one little Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), and never really had any bad weather. There were a number of storms onshore, but out where we were, the weather held fine. The Dolphin was sealed in a plastic bag at the end of the day and put in the freezer for the trip home. Buckner has one of those machines that sucks the air out of a plastic bag and seals it, so fixing the fish for the freezer is really easy.
Third and last day -- we went out early again, caught a bunch of bait fish (Sardines), and started trolling. Decided to stay around 120 feet, since that's where we'd caught the Wahoo and the Dolphin. Caught a few Bonita, got one fish that we weren't sure of (see first picture on the right) so threw it back, then caught the Wahoo mentioned earlier. That made it a good day, since we had more meat to take home. Late in the day, I got one of those strikes that hits, then lets go -- characteristic of a Sailfish! I let some line out, waited a little, then felt him hit again! Gave it a strong tug and out of the water he came! Yahooo! The second picture on the right is the best shot that we got of him. See that little splash about halfway between the big ship and my pole? .. That's the Sailfish. I got him all the way up to the boat, Buckner got a hand on him, then he slipped the hook and off he went. I'm told that if you touch the fish, he's considered caught -- but I'd have preferred getting a picture of him. Oh well .. it was great watching that fish jump and dive. They are really beautiful fish and we would have thrown him back anyway, so nothing lost. Catching a fish like that is a real challenge and is amazing fun, even if you don't get a picture.
So ends another adventure. The RV is really comfortable, has great space and storage, and drives very well. It's got the V-10 Ford and wide-track wheels, so has less sway than earlier RVs that I've owned. The greatest improvement is not having to worry about breakdowns and other problems. Seems like I had my fair share of that with the Pace Arrow. If you buy a used RV, I recommend paying for the extended warranty -- I could have purchased a 5-year warranty on the Pace Arrow for $6000 when I bought it in August 2002, but thought I'd never spend that much in 5 years ... ended up spending more than that in one year ... hmmm.
We will hopefully have many years of trouble-free travel with the Damon. If you're planning to buy and haven't looked at Damon, I'd recommend you do. I noted only minor differences between the Damon Challenger and the Winnebago Brave 32' that I was looking at earlier, yet it was $9K cheaper than the Brave. After spending some time in the Challenger, I think I also prefer its layout to the Brave.
50. A New RV and a Sailfish
My Travel Log
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