Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Everglades Airboat Tour

Odometer- Unchanged at 29078

Joan and I are finishing out the month of February here in Fort Myers, Florida, and before packing up and heading to the Keys, we wanted to experience a trip in an airboat.


These incredible conveyances are a flat-bottomed boat with an aircraft type propeller used for forward movement.
There are at least a dozen or more vendors set up on the northwest edge of the Everglades eager to provide this type of adventure, and since we are just a couple hours from the "Glades" we decided that we just had to take a tour. The tours closest to Fort Myers take off from Everglades City about 2 hours south of here. We will be traveling this same route with the motorhome on the first of March, however we only have one day to get 265 miles from Fort Myers to Big Pine Key and get set up for the night, so we elected to drive our towed car (toad as it's known to RVers) down yesterday to take this tour.


These boats are just a little noisy, employing a V-8 engine and a 60" pusher-type propeller, so some form of hearing protection is a very good idea. (Note ear plugs, Marla). Our captain demonstrated how little water depth is really required for the boat to glide forward- basically wet mud or grass will work as well as water.


The vegetation in the picture above is mostly Saw Grass and in the distance, very young mangrove, the water is layers of fresh and salt water. How much is salt and how much is fresh depends on the storm surges (salty)and thunderstorms (fresh). We saw lots of fish everywhere we looked.
Of course, no everglades trip is complete without a gator or two! It is definitely their world here.
This 6 foot juvenile was not intimidated by the approach of our boat as the captain cut power and drifted over where it was. The alligator, actually moved over next to the boat. The captain said she would welcome a "hand-out"! Not my hand!
All too soon it was time to return to the dock. This compares well with the jet boat tours on the Rogue River in Oregon

We had packed a lunch, so on our way back up State Route 41 we stopped in at Port of the Islands Marina and watched the harbor activities as we dined on sandwiches. This is a very nice marina and it provides access to the Gulf, as well as to the Ten Thousand Islands and many channels and bayous of the Everglades.



To make things more interesting we chose a route back to Ft.Myers that would take us over Route 92 and onto Marco Island. This is a pretty upscale community, it was fun to check out the beautiful houses with canals and boats behind them. We have never seen so many boats and we are not talking small boats! This route would allow us to drive the length of the island, about 6 miles, and take the northern bridge off the island and onto SR 951 which connects back to SR 41.

The rest of the trip back up 42 would take us through Naples and Ft. Myers Beach but would be very congested at this time of day, so we reluctantly jogged over to I-75 for the rest of the journey north.

Today

All the above was yesterday (Monday 25th). Today (Tues) we have to hang around home base in the morning because we have a tech coming by to do a rock chip repair on our windshield. We took a hard hit to the passenger side of the windshield while we were crossing the Atchafalaya causeway and are staying in Ft. Myers long enough, that we decided to get the repair here.
This afternoon we will probably go to the museum or the movies- can't decide- ooh the stress!

Jeff and Joan

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