There are lots
of airboat trails criss-crossing the marsh. There
are many places in the marsh that you cannot get to at
all unless you have an airboat. There are flowers and
trees and animals and a million sights that can be seen
no other way.
travels best on just a couple of inches of water. If you
are in a large, open area you can go all over the place
- so long as you don't hit something in the water and go
ass-over-teakettle. All it takes is a clump of grass or
cypress knee to knock you out of whack, so frequently traveled
routes end up following the same safe path and establishing
are well established trails through the cypress, across
large grass prairies and even through tall bushes.
Here is one that is an airboat sized tunnel through Myrtle
and Willow trees.
Looking back at the prop wash hitting
the trail - The top of the prop cage is visible in the
bottom of the picture.
like this needs to be traveled frequently to keep it at
all passable. The grass will overgrow the trail and the
bushes will grow together if not beat back regularly. There
is just enough water to keep an airboat moving and the
greenery is constantly trying to close the gap from every
<<< SideNote: This
trail is pretty old and has a mucky bottom. We came around
a bend one day and there was an otter smack in the middle
of the trail just a few yards away from us! There wasn't
a lot we could do - we were moving along at a good speed,
there was no place to go to avoid him - and airboats
lack brakes. He looked at us like a deer caught in the
headlights and dove headfirst into the shallow water.
We went right over top of him, but the boat passing over
just pushed him into the soft mucky bottom. As I looked
back I saw him sitting up in the middle of the trail
again glaring at us and, no doubt, taking down our rudder
The trail in wintertime.
are hazards in a trail like this. You must stay strictly
to the path, there is no place to pull over. Tree branches
grow out and try to catch your prop cage, and if you
hit the edge of the trail the thick growth of grass will
knock you aside - probably into a tree branch. You want
to keep a steady speed up because the water is deep enough
to move an airboat over top of, but not to float at rest.
You would not have the ability to pull out quickly if
another boat came - which is another of the hazards.
can't see another boat coming towards you until it's right
on top of you - or see a stopped boat in the trail until
you are right on top of it. You can't hear another boat
over the sound of your own engine, and the dense growth
prevents you from seeing warning signs like birds taking
flight or plants moving. There is no room for anyone to
pull aside and airboats don't have brakes. Like I said,
there are hazards.
Spider. Actual Size. Eechhh.
if all this wasn't enough, you also get the spiders. During
the night spiders string their webs back and forth across
the trail. We are talking about a lot of spiders. Large
you are the first boat to go down that trail that day
you get to make a path through the spiderwebs (spiders
included, no extra charge).
what you do: Break off a tree branch with
a lot of little twigs coming off it. Hold it out forward
and above head height so that as you go down the trail
the webs and spiders (most of them) are caught on the
twigs. If you have a passenger they can hold the stick,
but if you are driving alone it means you have to steer
the boat carefully down the trail with one hand, while
holding the stick out with the other. This leaves you
no hands to brush spiders off your head so I recommend
wearing a hat, too.