When I first joined the Offshore Club, we were meeting at Monty’s Marina. I can assure you there isn’t much difference between the meetings then and now. It was fun then and it is fun today.
I didn’t own an offshore boat when I first joined the club, but I enjoyed many rides with a lot of fine people. One person was a guy named Norman Dunn.
Norman was a “Damn Yankee” and I don’t really remember how he ended up in Jacksonville. I met him because we worked in the same building at that time.
I got him interested in offshore fishing with stories I shared on Monday mornings after a good weekend of fishing. I talked Norman into joining the Club. Shortly thereafter, he bought a what-cha-ma-call-it boat powered by a 50 or 60 HP Scott-McCulloch outboard and we started fishing together on a regular basis.
When Norman first got the boat he was as proud as any new boat owner and invited me over to have a look at his stately craft. I recall the first time I ever saw that boat. I walked up to it, took one look at the motor and said, “Scott McCulloch, huh? What ya gonna name it? Chain Saw?” That conversation almost broke up a good friendship and fishing team.
In those days Loran A wasn’t in existence. Marine radio was all AM band and limited to a select few people that could afford them. Navigation was mostly by dead-reckoning. Factoring in time, distance, speed and the ability to hold a compass heading determined when or if you arrived at your planned destination. The compass Norman had in Ole Chain Saw was similar to the stick-on windshield type. This compass was also about as big as the eye on a rag doll and would spin like the drums on a slot machine. This called for even more acute seamanship. The only way to assure you were heading in a relatively close course was to bring the boat to rest, wait for the compass to stop spinning, get lined up and take off again.
To resolve the navigation problems, Norman almost always fished the same area. As you left the jetties, you turned to a heading of 110 degrees and ran for two hours. This also solved the safety problem because everyone knew where we were going and we could always get a tow if we needed one. We always needed one.
Norman got very active in the club and became one hell of a fisherman. Just a few years after joining the club, he decided to vacation in Flamingo, down at the tip end of the Florida mainland. Yep, you guessed it, just ole Chain Saw and Norman for 10 days in the flats around south Florida. The clearest water that yank had ever seen, including New Jersey drinking water.
The following year he went to the Keys and that did it. Shortly after that trip, he bought an old run down fish camp, just outside of Marathon, called Grassy Key Fish Camp and built it into a real fine marina.
Norman eventually became the Evinrude Dealer for Monroe County and his business became quite large. He sold the business for “big bucks” and went some place down into the islands and set up a big house boat rental business.
During the time Norman was active in the club, he served on several committees, including the Chart Committee.
You guessed it, Dunn’s Run (DR) is named for Norman and ole Chain Saw.
Wonder why his fishing buddy, didn’t also get his name tied to that area. After all, he was brave enough to make more than one trip out to that spot in ole “Chain Saw.”
In one of the saddest events of recent club history, David Miller, just 17 at the time, was lost in a diving accident in Key West. The family decided to scatter David’s ashes at one of his favorite fishing spots, a highly productive ledge at Dunn’s Run that David had been fishing for most of his life.
It was a tribute to David’s legacy as a truly fine young man that an entire fleet of club boats accompanied the King Neptune on that somber occasion. We fondly remember David every time his “favorite spot” produces a quality day of fishing.