This is the third installment of 12 Things to Experience on an Everglades Airboat Tour which can also be downloaded as a free eBook.
Not only is an airboat the most effective way of getting around in the Everglades, swamps or marshlands…sometimes it is the ONLY way. Reeds and grasses of swampland can easily tangle in the propellers of boats. This can prevent even shallowdraft rowboats from traveling in these paths. A flat-bottomed, air-propelled boat may be your only option. This is why the airboat was born!
The first airboat, called the Ugly Duckling, was built in 1905 in Nova Scotia, Canada by a team led by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. It was used to test various engines and prop configurations. Glenn Curtiss, an associate of Dr. Bell, was reported to have registered the first airboat in Florida in 1920.
By the 1930s you could see homemade airboats traveling through the swamps and marshes of Florida and Louisiana as a means of getting around. There is at least one company in Florida that claims to have been providing airboat rides as entertainment since the mid 1930s. But how exactly does it work?
- The engine and propeller are at the rear of the boat, enclosed in a protective metal cage. (This prevents objects, such as branches, clothing, debris, passengers, or wildlife, from coming in contact with the propeller.)
- The propeller produces a rearward column of air that propels the airboat forward.
- Steering is accomplished by forced air passing across vertical rudders. There must be a forceful airflow in order for the vessel to be steered.
- Airboats do not have brakes and are incapable of traveling in reverse. Stopping and reversing direction are dependent upon good operator/pilot/driver skills.
What can they do?
Push through reeds and trees – In an airboat, you can slowly nose your way through reeds, even in very shallow waters. The speed of the boat is usually at less than half throttle when driving in marsh or swamp.
Plane – Planing the boat is one of the most thrilling parts of an air boat ride. This is also the fastest and most fuel-efficient way to travel significant distances on an air boat. An airboat will plane when the speed is gradually ramped up on relatively flat water. You will feel a point where the boat lifts up off the water, slightly, and allows a small pocket of air to pass continuously underneath the boat.
Would you like to see an airboat in action? Come see us at Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours located in Everglades City. Our airboat tours depart continuously – about every 30 minutes and every day of the year including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bring your $10 off coupon and start your adventure today! If you have further question about us or if you are ready to book your trip contact us online, call us toll free at 1-800-282-9194, or follow Captain Jack’s on Twitter.
– Captain Jack