The assumption that a quiet day on the Wacissa River would allow us sufficient time and space to practice with our kayaks was proven to be anything but quiet and uneventful. A typical launch and cool refreshing wading through the shallow headwaters of the Wacissa were abruptly interrupted by the roar and screech of an airboat. If you’ve never heard one, be glad. The extreme noise so contradicts the peaceful flowing of a springfed river, that I can’t believe Kerry used to LOVE these beasts.
According to Wikipedia, “An airboat, also known as a fanboat, is a flat-bottomed vessel (jon boat) propelled in a forward direction by an aircraft-type propeller and powered by either an aircraft or automotive engine. Airboats are a very popular means of transportation in the Florida Everglades, parts of the Indian River Lagoon, the Kissimmee and St. Johns Rivers, as well as Louisiana Bayous, where they are used for fishing, bowfishing, hunting and eco-tourism, and in other marshy and/or shallow areas where a standard inboard or outboard engine with a submerged propeller would be impractical.”
Wikipedia goes on to say, “Knowledge of operational safety is essential when operating an airboat. The average airboat produces a 150-mile-per-hour (241 km/h) prop wash behind it and if a tree branch gets into a propeller the spray of material could be devastating, causing damage to the vessel and injury to the boat’s occupants.”
So, I’m thinking that on this particular day, the airboat operator/pilot/driver had not had essential operational safety instruction to navigate his new toy. The craft raced back and forth like a pacing tiger through the thicket of trees and herbicide-resistant hydrilla when all of a sudden silence filled the air like darkness, and we stopped what we were doing to stare in awe; then to listen to the scream called out taking names of those who had been onboard, but tossed into the water.
The boat had taken an immediate right angle turn straight into huge tree branches that, once forced through the propeller, had jolted the contraption to a stop along the woodsy bank of the river. With the two family members pulled out of the water and back atop the boat, the distressed driver began to swim through the alligator infested grassy bottom pulling his boat back to the landing. He must have been relieved when Kerry (aka Superman that day) rushed over in his motorized Ocean Torque and saved the day!
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I filmed the little kayking towing the big broken beast back to the landing. We were so glad that the only actual casualties were the near $3,000 busted airboat prop, one very unhappy wife and the feelings/pride of the owner. Poor guy – we wish him well.
Come along and watch as the amzing little kayak performs it’s finest!