Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Famous Last Words? - Watch This

Nothing good ever happens when someone says "watch this" right?
The first modern airboat was designed by a pair of retired Army pilots just after the end of World War II. They were avid fisherman and had made their home in the Everglades area and as great as the fishing is in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay, the desire to fish in freshwater was so great, that they created a new mode of transportation that could get them far back into the freshwater marshes of the Everglades where they could fish the open pools. The flat-bottomed boat was designed with a Cadillac engine and an airplane propeller that sits above the water and pushes the boat across sawgrass, mud and shallow water. With nothing bellow the water to impede movement, the airboat can go......just about anywhere.
Since Sam arrived on Saturday, I've promised to take him to the airboat out at Lake Trafford. This is where we take people on our Everglades tours and on any given day you can see 25 to 200 alligators ranging from 1-foot babies, to 12 foot adults on the hour long tour. Wait. The people are on the tour. Not the alligators. But it would be funny if the alligators were. But anyway. It's hot here and the alligators don't bask in August, instead they dip down into the mud to stay cool.
(Photo by Sam)

Sam had recently seen his first alligator and now was out on his first airboat. This was not his first time looking cool.

Here an alligator does the backstroke, which although unusual, also means that they are quite dead. We were told that this eight footer had been taken out by a twelve footer. Scale at Lake Trafford is often distorted, so apply the Canadian monetary exchange where dollars = length of alligator and you have a more realist estimate. I'd say an 8 footer took out a 6 footer. But really who's counting.

As nesting season winds down, baby alligator buffets are all the rage. And so is this mother's temper. She's spent weeks putting up with courtship displays from bull alligators, 2 months helping her incubating eggs stay safe and now cannibalistic males bully their way in and eat 15-20 of her babies? It's enough to make a mother growl ferociously and lash out at a paddle inserted into her den by an airboat captain. I'm not saying that happened......

The biggest thrill though had to be the point at which the airboat captain stepped on the throttle and aimed for a 200 foot dry runway of sand and cattails. No water? No mud? Watch this.

(once the cap goes on the camera - all is well. I forgot to turn it off)
The captain tried this last Thursday for the first time on a trip I was on. I asked him later if he knew there was no water and he said "There was 3 inches there yesterday!"

So he knew he could do it even without water so he did it again. It was a bit of a rough ride, but for the captains who spend a lot of time in the captain's chair? We know where you can go for relief. The Ace Hardware up the road in La Belle is well stocked.

(Photo by Sam)


  1. Pete, tell me honestly, have you been using the anti-monkey butt powder we gave you?