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Remember what airboats are good for?
You. Because …
- you get freedom of movement: to land- and waterscapes that are otherwise out of reach
- you get freedom of action: your airboat is good for many things
- you get freedom of choice: your airboat is custom-built for you
- you get to save money: and wherever you go much cheaper than with a helicopter
- you forget your worries: airboats have so few moving parts, they are easy to maintain
- you get to stay safe: your airboat is a stable working platform
- you get to have fun: to fish, dive, gamewatch or just be there
- you gain time: your airboat is fast, much faster than any other craft
But that’s not all. Think of others, too. Like the environment:
- airboats do not need a slipway or leave any tracks – they just fly over the surface
- the aluminium hull is lightweight, strong, corrosion resistant, and recyclable
- the use of aluminium reduces energy consumption and increases payload capacity
- aluminium is non-toxic and releases no aroma or taste of its own
- aluminium is non-magnetic, non-sparking and non-combustible
- airboats run a closed cooling circuit and release no chemicals or heat into the water
- without a propeller in the water, injuries to wildlife in case of a collision remain minimal
- without any moving parts in the water, airboats do not destroy aquatic vegetation or stir up sediment like conventional boats
We think that is pretty cool.
Yeah, but, you know, if…. OK, any other concerns? Keep reading.
If, If, If…
- If you can’t afford an airboat – make a plan. Like, first ride one, then buy one.
- If you’re pretty sure already, then follow the easy steps listed below as a guideline on to how to go about it.
- If you’re a tourism operator (or a safari lodge, hotel, guest house etc.), ask about Airboat Afrika Franchise Options.
- If your mind is already made up, You’ll still need to ask yourself some questions:
How PC are you ?
Don’t panic just yet – PC stands for Private or Commercial. If you’re going to use your airboat privately, enjoy the ride, but read the other questions first.
If you’re planning some kind of commercial use, we suppose the boat will be used a lot. Like, every day, from sunrise to sunset? Or more?
Commercial use will put a much higher strain on your equipment than the occasional breakfast run over the lake with friends and family.
In fact, you need to gauge your operating hours on a monthly basis – that will play a role to determine the type of hull you require, your engine & propeller set-up, your tank volume and many other details.
We’ll get to those, just think of your monthly operating hours to start with.
What are you doing ?
What is your application?
If you’re not sure what this means, check out the relevant section on how to use airboats.
They’re incredibly versatile and fast, and they provide a stable platform for fishing, diving and lots of other things. It is really important to consider what you’re going to use your airboat for.
If you want to take your buddies on a ride down the Vaal River with Motörhead blaring in your headphones, a marinized CD system and a well for a cooler box will be considered “minimal life support systems”.
That would be quite different from taking 18 tourists across St. Lucia lagoon for some close-up wildlife encounters, slide across the sandbar and make your way through the waves into the Indian Ocean. Without ever stopping or getting off the boat. To be continued with some whale watching, all before you beach your airboat for some well-earned sundowners.
Oh dear, where can I book this tour?
S-e-r-i-o-u-s: 3 buddies on the Vaal are not nearly as salty as St.Lucia lagoon – even the Indian Ocean can’t keep up with that. And you might want to make sure you have bought a saltwater edition, with enough seats for all your guests, and enough transom height to keep the Indian or any other Ocean out of your boat.
Size does matter !
- How big do you want to go?
- Or else, how deep is your pocket?
It all depends on what kind of payload you need to transport, over what kind of terrain.
- How many passengers are you going to ferry, and will only one pilot do?
- Maybe you need twin operator seats – one for the pilot and one for the ranger / gunner / medic / warden?
- How far do you travel from your base and how much fuel do you need to carry?
- Is there going to be bulky or heavy equipment that needs to be loaded?
It really comes back to the previous point – what are you going to do?
Work it out, and remember – there’s always unforeseens out there, so build in some extra margin that you’re sure you’ll never need. Because you will. Promise.
Quo Vadis ?
No man is an island, and no boat can pretend to be one. Everything depends on your interaction with your environment. Understand where you are, where you’re going, and what’s out there.
- Where are you going? What does your operating environment look like?
- Inland waters or coastal? Island transfers? Fresh or salty?
- Deep lakes and rivers? Or shallow waters? Ice and snow maybe?
- Marshland? Okavango Delta, The Sudd or similar?
- Any obstacles you know of, like grass, weeds, any kind of aquatic or riverine vegetation? Mangroves?
- What about sandbanks, dam walls, rocks, rapids or mud?
- Floating stuff, like logs or debris?
- Wildlife? In the water, or close to the water?
- Human settlements in the neighborhood?
- Other vessels?
- What’s your backup?
- What do your supply lines look like?
- How readily available is fuel where you are?
- Maybe you want to consider a diesel, and go biofuel with it.
- What about maintenance and spare parts? You can always get help from us, but out in the bush, it’ll be quicker to go DIY.
- How much fuel do you need to carry? That is soooo important. Because, your airboat will take you where no man has gone before. Boldly or not. So if you run dry, only another airboat can help you. (Buy one here…) A regular boat will probably not make it. And mokoros are slow, just as helicopters are expensive.
Work out your needs in relation to your environment, before you set off.
Transport? But an airboat is an all terrain vehicle, no?
Yes it is, but not on a highway. You’ll still need to transport your airboat between different bodies of water, and for that, you’ll need a trailer.
Order your trailer custom-fit to your airboat right away. Remember maximum allowable width & height for road transport. Check your country’s legislation.
If you do not frequently need to move your boat by road – well, you’ll be able to save some money. Pay even closer attention to the next section.
Yaya, those sales people, they always want to push you for more. Not everything is mere bling bling though:
- It’s hot in the sun. Do you need a bimini top? Fix mounted or collapsible?
- Road trip! What about a fitted canvas cover for boat & trailer?
- You should already know how many seats – but what kind of seats? Individual leather seats? or plastic benches?
- There shall be light. Position lights, flash lights in your grass rake, shielded halogens for fishing, spot lights on top of your prop guard, or a hand-held search light for night safaris?
- Do you fish? Or drink like a fish? Then you need something like a live well for the catch, or the beer. Maybe just a place to stick the cooler box. Remember: More beer = less fish.
- Do you go bundu bashing? Then you’ll need a gun rack. Maybe rod holders? Quivers for bowfishing?
- What’s your brand? Think of your paintjob: any specific colors or logos? What about your rudders – plain or artsy?
- Do you carry paying guests? Consider handrails. A headset intercom system. Stow space under the seats: wire cages or watertight?
- Are you a good swimmer? Keep your guests alive and your insurance happy. Provide space for flotation devices. A pole or a paddle for emergencies.
- Do you know where you’re going? Do you need a GPS in the dashboard? Or just a plug to charge your hand-held?
- Backup. Call for backup. Airboats have no reverse gear! Unless you put one in – like an electric trolling motor. In the bow, or hydraulics, transom-mounted.
- E=mc². Everything is about energy these days. And you? What have you got on board? Do you need double batteries? Or a generator for those halogens?
I’ll stop here
But think about it. You’ll eventually have to answer these questions, and some more, as part of your order form, sign on the dotted line, and off you go. We’ve thought about letting you download the order form. But it is rather technical, and the airboat you’re ready to own should really be what you need. That’s why we’d like to get to know you first, and efficiently assist you with the process.
- because you’re entitled to great service. That includes us listening to you.
- because nobody knows everything, and for sure, not the first time ’round. So we’ll help you work it out together.
- because it’s your airboat. Tailor-made. Custom-built. For you!
And that’s our job.