I had never been on an airboat when I started working for Marsh Landing Adventures/Orlando Airboat Tours, and everyone said I had to go out one day so I can help explain what its like when asked by a guest. Now, I grew up right here in the middle of Florida, out fishing on a bass boat every Sunday, swimming in all the lakes. not afraid of the water or the wildlife out in it. But there was something terrifying about me sitting up that high above the water and a big fan blade behind me! I had visions of taking a turn on the airboat and me flying through the air and tumbling across the muddy swamp. That’s my luck, that’s what is expected, and that’s what I was afraid of.
The second week at work and I’m informed that today is the day! It’s good that they didn’t tell me a day in advance because I think I would have called out sick! So, with fear going through me, I wander off to my car to find rope to tie myself onto the boat! No luck, no rope! I head down to the ramp hoping if I stalled long enough, the captain would leave without me….nope! Standing there waiting was Capt Scott almost laughing at me, knowing my fear, he said, “Come on, your going to love this!” The grin that was on his face made me think twice about this, but it was a task I had to complete for work. Capt Scott points to my seat, and of course its next to the captain seat way up high, at least to me! I climb up and sit there looking around for seat belts and couldn’t find any, so I ask, and he says there aren’t any….. Great, how am I going to stay aboard without some help of a restraint?!
With my panic at high level, the boat starts and we are slowly heading away from the dock. I look down next to me and there is the water, no sides to the boat, just straight down. So, I thought, at least I wont bounce off anything when I fall over. I look up and feel the wind on my face, and how smooth the ride was. and I started to relax. This isn’t so scary, I might actually stay on the boat, might not tumble across the water. might stay clean and dry. Sitting back and getting comfortable, I seen some birds flying and enjoyed the view.
We cruise the canal heading for the swampy marshy parts and I’m starting to get excited. I’ve been in this area a lot fishing, so what am I so excited about? I wasn’t sure, maybe getting over my fear of the airboat, maybe sitting this high up or it might just be all the adrenaline running through me, but I was enjoying it.
As we get to the end of the canal, Capt Scott reaches over and grabs my arm, I look over just as I feel the boat speeding up and we turn out into the marsh. For that instant, I knew, here I go, I will be tumbling any minute, remember, tuck and roll, do I have extra cloths, how muddy will I get, how will I get mud out of my hair, will the other guests video this and put me on youtube, will the video go viral,…yes, you think of a lot of unexpected things when you are about to fall off an airboat….but nothing happen! I stayed on the boat, I didn’t even lean over…, what, wait, I was supposed to fall, get muddy, that’s how it works with me, but not today.
I looked at the captain with a question and all he said is he wanted me to feel safe, I bet he was secretly afraid I fall over, seeing as I’m very clumsy, and it was his way of making sure I stayed put, and I did. He stops the boat and proceeds to give some history of the lake, the birds, the alligators and then says lets go see what we can find. The family that was on the boat that day were great boats mates, they enjoyed themselves and really enjoyed seeing how terrified I was.
After visiting most of the big alligators, learning their names, seeing a mated pair of Eagles, a snake, and so much Flora and Fauna, the tour was over. I was disappointed to be heading back to the dock. I should have joined a longer tour. I now want to be an airboat captain so I can spend my days enjoying the beauty of the Florida Everglades. So, if you have any fear about jumping aboard an airboat, rest assure, I’ve been there as well, my only regret is not going out longer!
True Adventure with Terri