Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Jubilee Deep Sea Fishing Review, Panama City, FL

Deep-sea fishing during our fall vacation is quickly becoming a family tradition. This past fall, we were in Panama City Beach Florida for the week and the deep-sea fishing did not disappoint. After doing our research, we settled on Jubilee Deep-sea Fishing and the entire trip was top notch. The fishing was good, the crew was friendly, and the boat was clean! Continue reading for more highlights.

We stuck with our tried and true plan of grabbing a biscuit and a coffee from the McDonald's drive thru. We arrived at the dock on time and the check in process was very easy. Prior to boarding the Jubilee, a 90ft. party boat, the captain gathered everyone together. This was the first time this had happened prior to a fishing trip like this, and I liked it. First, he went over a few safety instructions, then he told us about the onboard concessions, and finally he informed us about the current conditions at sea. Based on this info, I only took a fourth of a Dramamine and I was totally fine the entire trip. 

Another thing that he mentioned was that Jubilee provides family fishing experiences. They do sell beer at the concession stand, but he specifically mentioned "no hard liquors are allowed onboard". He went on to say, "we want everyone to have fun, but lets watch the language and behavior because we do have children on board". Considering that I have an impressionable 9-year-old, I appreciated this policy.

On the way to our first fishing stop we saw a dozen or so dolphins and huge jelly fish. The captain and crew were awesome and pointed out the dolphins as we approached. We did not book a dolphin spotting tour but I guess that is one of the perks of fishing in the gulf. Of course, they can be one of the  downsides of fishing in the gulf. We had no run-in's with the dolphins on our trip but the crew told us horror stories of dolphins stealing fish as passengers reel them in. 

The only downside that I found about the entire trip was the "assigned seats". As you check in, you are given your assigned fishing location. Most other charters we have been on are first come, first serve. We like to fish at the rear of the boat, but on this trip we were sitting along the side. We were told by one of the deck-hands that you can request the back at booking but there are no guarantees that the request will be granted. 

The captain of the Jubilee was great! He stayed in constant communication with the deckhands and announced what types of fish that were being caught over the intercom. Each time fishing slowed he was ready to take us to a new location, we ended up fishing in four different locations on this trip. As we finished the trip and headed inland, he allowed parents to bring their little ones up for a chance to drive the boat. 

After unloading we carried our fish next door and had them cleaned, we ended up keeping several lady fish and a nice size porgy. As is tradition, we stopped at a local hook & cook restaurant for a delicious lunch and then headed back to the condo for a lazy afternoon at the beach. 

Jubilee Deep-sea Fishing was top notch. They offer a great family experience and a chance to catch a load of fish. Be sure to give them a call if you are in the area!

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Friday, June 17, 2022

Canoe The Caney, Silver Point, TN, Canoe and Kayak Tips

If you are near the Caney Fork River located in East Tennessee, then you may be familiar with the bright yellow canoes and kayaks floating down the river. These vessels are property of Canoe the Caney, an outfitter located in Silver Point, TN. They offer several trips with varying lengths, they also provide kayaks, canoes, tandems, even floating cooler carriers.

We recently went camping in East Tennessee and we decided to spend one of our days enjoying the Caney Fork River. Continue reading to hear our experience with Canoe the Caney as well as some helpful tips based on our personal experience. 

We showed up at the outfitters the morning of our trip. Everyone that we interacted with was helpful and the check-in process was quick and easy. After everyone on our trip had arrived, we sat through a short safety briefing and made our way onto an old black school bus. After a short ride to the drop point, we were on the river. Once on the river, there isn't much left to say regarding the outfitter. There's lots of floating, paddling, and making stops to hangout, picnic, skip rocks, fish, and make rock sculptures. At the end of your trip, Canoe the Caney will be there to provide transportation back to your vehicle. After nine hours on the river, the old black school bus resembled a golden chariot sent down from the heavens. 
The Caney Fork River is a nice river that can speed up or slow down depending on the dam. We had heard that when the generators are on at Center Hill Dam the shorter trips seem to be over too quickly. For that reason, we opted for the longer, nine-mile trip. The only problem is that you won't know the generators are on until the morning of your arrival. With no generating, the Caney becomes still water and requires a lot of paddling. On the morning of our trip, the dam generated from around 9:30 -11:00. This means that we had some current to help push us along for the first couple of miles, but no help for the remaining seven miles.

Below are some lessons learned from our experience with Canoe the Caney and the Caney Fork River. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments and share your experience.

Canoe and Kayak Tips - Things we wish we had known!

Plan a Shorter Trip - Unless you canoe or kayak all the time, then you really do not appreciate how long nine miles in a kayak can be. 

Manage Your Time - Since you are choosing the shorter trip, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the journey down the river. You can extend the trip by making extra stops or speed the trip up by staying in the canoe and making progress downstream.

Choose the Right Transportation - For our family of three, with one 9-year-old at the time, we should have gotten one canoe and one single kayak. The canoe allows you to carry items more efficiently, this is important when you're the one doing the paddling.

Do not get a cooler carrier - Putting things inside the canoe will be much easier than dragging a heavy tube behind a kayak.

Bring a Medium Size Cooler - We packed a full sized lunchable and a couple of granola bars for each of us. For the 9-hour trip we should have packed a few more snacks.  

Bring a couple of Bungee Cords - If you chose to disregard my advice, and you rented the kayak over the canoe, then be warned that the tandem or kayak is extremely limited on space. Please do not make the mistake of renting the cooler carrier. If you do decide to get a tandem or kayak, you need to bring a couple of small bungee cords to help hold things in the small storage compartment.

Always Wear Your Life Jacket - Things can get dangerous quickly and with little or no warning. On our trip, my son and I got hung on a down tree and got dumped out of the kayak. Thankfully, he had a life jacket on. I did not have a life jacket on, but I will not make that mistake again.
Wear Water Shoes - Any of the stops along the river will be covered with rocks. Some are smooth from tumbling in the river, but most are very sharp. You will be thankful to have a pair of water shoes with a hard sole. On our trip I was lucky enough to find a real arrowhead!

Safety First - In addition to wearing your life jacket, kids under twelve with little or no kayaking experience should not kayak alone. If a child were to get dumped out of the kayak, they could panic and not know what to do. We made this mistake as well, thank God that he was with me when we did get dumped.

Bring Toilet Paper - I am only going to say that there are no rest stops or portable potties along the river. In addition to "TP", you may consider bringing a small pack of wipes to wash your hand. 

Don't Forget your Fishing Poles or Magnets - We like to fish and magnet fish from time to time. This would be a wonderful opportunity for both. We decided not to take the extra gear since we did not know beforehand how much room we would have in the kayaks. Get at least one canoe for a family trip and you should have plenty of room for a few extras.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Voyager Deep-sea Fishing Disaster - Must Read!

No trip to the coast is complete without a party boat deep-sea fishing trip. If you have never been deep-sea fishing or if you have a trip planned, I highly recommend Deep-sea Fishing Tips for Beginners. You will find some helpful tips to save you time, money, and frustration.

While searching the various options for deep-sea fishing charters in the North Myrtle Beach area, I came across Voyager Deep-sea Fishingand Dolphin Cruises located in North Myrtle Beach. The website is very well designed and it offers good information about what to expect on your trip. Unfortunately, this is where the good ends. If you read to the end, you will see that this trip gets progressively worse.

I knew that the crew did not expect a big day when I saw that they only had two
Dollar-Tree-sized laundry baskets and slightly more ice than large McDonald's Coke!

Voyager is located at Dock Holiday’s Marina, which is further inland than some of the other fishing charters. I knew this when I booked the trip but I figured the cruise out to sea would be a nice addition for my son. Turns out that I was right, the trip out to sea was nice, but it does cut into your fishing time. Round trip, you will lose approximately one hour of fishing time.

The Captain of the Voyager was friendly, but his methods were different from what I had previously experienced. I am far from a boating or deep-sea fishing expert, but it seemed like he spent too much time in one fishing spot. Our first stop produced very few fish; the fish we did catch were too small to keep. We played catch and release for what seemed like an eternity before moving to the second and final stop.

The best part of this trip ended up being the cruise down
the Intercoastal Waterway that leads out to sea.

Here we came across a school of small black sea bass; most were around ten inches and had to be released. I happened to reel in the only keeper that was just over the thirteen-inch mark. It was at this stop that I also caught a 14” Chocolate Chip Porgy. The Porgy ended up winning the fish pool for the biggest fish. I hate to boast, but this is the second year in a row that we have won the fish pool. Last year my wife won with an Atlantic Sharpnose shark! The deckhands made their way around the boat with a bucket to collect tips while we headed back to the marina. When we returned, we were given our fish. Sadly, the majority of the passengers had no fish to show for their day at sea.

This is where the first mate let his true colors come out. This is also where I determined that I would choose a different deep-sea fishing charter on our next visit to North Myrtle Beach. When entering the fish pool, my family of three were the last names added to the list. I also paid for my son just in case he landed a whale. I later spoke with one of the deck-hands and he let me know that there were approximately 30 names on the list. Thirty passengers who pay $5 each would create a jackpot of around $150. But at the conclusion of our trip, the first mate handed me $65 and walked away. When I asked about the difference, he told me that the crew keeps a third to split between them, I still should have gotten $100.

I was going to leave it alone at this point. I just wanted it to be known that, unlike the first mate, I can do simple math. However, on the heels of lying to me about the fish pool, he offers to clean the few fish we caught for $15. The website that I mentioned earlier clearly says that they clean fish for their guest at a rate of .50 per pound. Pardon the expression, but there is no way in hell I had 30 lbs. of fish. 

Beware!! This guy simply can't resist trying to rip off the passengers!
You will know him, because he is the only deckhand that goes shirtless. Very unprofessional.  

When I told him that I would take my fish elsewhere to be cleaned, he got defensive. He began to rant about how little the deckhands are paid and then he pulled some small bills out of his pockets and tossed them in my cooler. All of this happened in front of my son. I am thankful that my wife decided to head to the car. I refused to take any of his money. I simply said, “You don’t owe me anything, I just want my fish.”

On the way out, I briefly spoke to the owner. I posed the question of how much the crew takes of the fish pool. The owner, who was a nice guy, said that they usually take a twenty-percent cut to split between the crew, this was on top of the tips that were collected. When I told him the cliff-notes version of what had just taken place, he shook his head in frustration. He offered to get the rest of my money after boarding the passengers for the next excursion. Instead of waiting for the line of passengers to board, I refused the money. I told him that it was not about the money, but I do not like to be lied to, stolen from, or to be treated with complete disrespect.

On our next trip to North Myrtle Beach, I plan to book our deep-sea fishing excursion with Little River Fishing Fleet. On our previous trip with them, we caught more fish and had more fun. Read the full review by clicking the link above.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Gran Maze of Coconut Creek, Panama City Beach, Florida

Before getting into the details, I'd like to say that I have mixed feelings about the Gran Maze of Coconut Creek. This was the first maze adventure for me and my family, and I must say that my expectations were exceptionally low. Walking through a maze did not seem like a fun way to spend the evening. Especially when nature's very own waterpark (the beach) is so close.

As it turns out, I was wrong. My family and I had a lot of fun winding through the maze. That said, the entertainment value was on par with my original expectations. I know that it may sound like an oxymoron to say that something is fun but not entertaining, but this is the case with the Gran Maze. I think this could be improved a little by adding some themed d├ęcor throughout the maze. If nothing else, it would be an opportunity to stop for a selfie or a family photo.

The object of the maze is to find your way to four points located in the center. You can see the raised areas in the photo above. All four points are connected to form one football-field-sized maze. Once at each point, you punch your card to show that you have completed the maze. My family of three, who depend deeply on Google maps for navigation, finished in around 30 minutes. The leader board that is located just outside the maze, displayed times as low as 15 minutes. Honestly, it is hard to believe that the course could be completed in 15 minutes without being extremely lucky or by cheating.

The maze at coconut creek provided a fun way to stretch our legs and to log a few steps in our Fitbits. A maze may not be our first choice for entertainment, but going forward, I am sure we will seek out this type of adventure more often. With a little practice, we may even shave a few minutes off our time.

Continue Reading:
Bizarre, Bike Hanging on a Tree, Andalusia, AL

Friday, November 20, 2020

Harbor View Golf, North Myrtle Beach

Whether you are looking for a driving range, a par-3 golf course, foot-golf, or putt-putt, you will find it all at Harbor View Golf, in North Myrtle Beach.

I played this Par-3 course with my wife, who had never played, and my 7-year-old son. We visited during the off-season, and it had rained most of the week before. The entire course was soaked, and the greens were extra soft and shaggy. I can only assume that the greens would be in much better condition during prime season. Due to the rain, I am sure the ground crew was unable to mow. I usually like the greens a little faster, but on this occasion, the slow greens were a huge plus. They were perfect for my wife and son to enjoy and not get frustrated.

This tee shot landed hard on the green, it was a very wet day.
Many of the greens at Harbor View are on the small side. Since we were playing a scramble, the size of the greens did not hurt us. We were on most of the greens in one or two shots and parred most of the holes. In the unfortunate event that we did not get on in two shots, we allowed my son to use his foot-wedge. Don't judge. We were out there to have fun, not to beat ourselves up over missing a green by two feet.

I have seen other reviews of Harbor View that say it is overpriced. I disagree, 18 holes of golf and a golf cart cost the three of us $80. In my opinion, this course offered a lot of value at this price. I am certain the price may be a bit more during peak season.  

If you are looking for a pristine par-three course, Harbor View may not be for you. However, high-end golf courses do not usually offer foot-golf for the kids. This Par-3 golf course is great for a day trip with your family or an easy day of working on your short game. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

We Caught A Shark! - Little River Deep-sea Fishing, North Myrtle Beach

We showed up at Calabash Marina on the morning of our deep-sea fishing Excursion. They asked that we arrive 30 minutes early so breakfast came from a drive-thru window. The check-in process was flawless, since I had our reservations printed, it only took a few minutes to get us checked in.

Once checked in, we boarded the Hurricane II where we were greeted by one of the crew members. He recognized that we had a young fisherman with us, so he offered us a spot in his section of the boat. He assured us that he would help my son out as needed, which was nice because I was trying to figure things out for myself. Since this was our first deep-sea fishing excursion, we opted for the half-day trip. The captain did a wonderful job, he kept us on fish all morning and we moved to a new location each time it slowed down.
All of the deckhands were knowledgeable, professional, and friendly. In addition to being able to identify many of the different fish species, they were also quick to assist with removing fish, adding bait, and fixing tangles. Since you will be spending the better part of your day at sea, the onboard crew members play a huge part in the overall experience. I cannot say enough about these guys, they really made this a memorable experience. 
Calabash Marina, NC
My wife ended up catching the largest fish of the morning and won the fish pool for biggest fish. She managed to reel in a Sharp Nose shark that was just under 4ft in length. When we returned to the dock one of the deckhands cleaned our keepers. They do not charge for this service, but keep in mind that they do accept tips. We gave several of our fish away to other passengers who were not as lucky. When all was said and done, we were able to take a few pounds of shark and grunt fish over to Crabcatchers restaurant where they will cook your catch. Neither my wife nor I had ever had the opportunity to try shark. The shark was delicious, but we enjoyed the flakey, white meat of the Grunt even more.
Everything about Little River Fishing Fleet is top-notch. They provided my family with a unique deep-sea fishing experience that we will never forget. If you have never been deep-sea fishing, I highly recommend going. If you are in North Myrtle, I highly recommend Little River Fishing fleet.

Continue Reading:

Deep-sea Fishing Tips for Beginners

Voyager Deep-sea Fishing Disaster - Must Read!