Sinking on the Sweetwater Canal
easy to sink an airboat in deep water. Not quite
so easy to get it out, but it can be done.
One day a couple
of friends rode with me in my kicker boat down the Sweetwater Canal.
While sitting around on the Cabbage Palm island we were
joined by another friend in his airboat.
After a while we
all decided to go into town and we two women got in my
boat and headed down the canal. The two men got on the
airboat and followed us.
I'm not sure who
decided what (or why), but rather than sticking to the
airboat trail the guys decided to catch up with us on the
canal and let the passenger back into my boat. The passenger
sat on the front corner of the airboat to be in position
to step down into my boat.
Here's where the
The airboat came
roaring up, slowing as they got close. The man sitting
on the bow of the boat caused the balance to be off, and
as they slowed the nose of the boat started to go down.
The driver, seeing the nose dip, stood on the gas HARD
to try to bring it back up. Instead of coming up, the nose
of the boat dug into the water and the entire airboat went
straight to the bottom of the canal.
The canal where
the airboat sank.
Believe it or
not, the four of us actually got that boat back out of
The post at the edge of the canal.
The airboat had sunk
about 10 feet from shore, with about 1 foot of water over
the top of the prop cage. Keep in mind, in the marsh "shore" doesn't
always mean solid ground, but we got lucky - not only was
it solid enough to stand on, but there was a post in the
ground within reach.
The two men got into
the canal, retrieved a stout rope from the airboat, and
tied the rope to the bow of the boat. We women stood knee-deep
in mud on the shore and wrapped the rope around the post.
The men would physically haul the boat a couple of inches
closer to shore and we would tighten up the rope around
the post to hold everything from sliding back.
The water grasses
were very thick and healthy in that spot and the prop cage
caught it all as we pulled through it. It was hard work
and very slow going, but we kept at it and finally had
the airboat floating again. The airboat would not start,
of course, with water in the engine, but we towed it back
into camp with my boat and the driver was later able to
get everything dried out and running again.