Airboaters: What do you take...
A fellow forum member has given me his list of items he takes on airboat trips. His list was very helpful. I am wondering what other airboaters take. What extra parts?; Jacks?; Rope or chain?; soap and water mixture or something else to spray on ground for a slick surface if stuck on dry ground? Looking for any ideas that might help me not repeat the learning curve if possible, especially with hunting season rapidly approaching and only a few days to hunt this year.
can't speak for the air boat guys, but my stuff includes a 4000 lb come along, a 2000 lb electric winch with a snatch block to double the pulling capacity, a secondary battery to run the winch, a couple of 2 X 4 pry poles, a handy man jack, lots of Amsteel Blue rope. This rope does not store energy so if it snaps it just goes limp. Have it wound on the winch. AND, the most important part, a most understanding wife who is willing to participate in the unsticking activities if necessary.
First and foremost I would invest in THE best headphones you can afford. I attribute most of my heary loss to driving airboats for over 10 years with cruddy headphones. DO NOT go cheap! Eventually I ran headphones with ear plugs. I would highly suggest life jackets too, I never went without mine.
As far as tools go we carried about every socket we could get our hands on, some in deep socket too. Our 912 Rotax engine has two airfilters hose clamped to the intake. On a couple of occasions the airfilter would rattle off at idle, extra hose clamps were great to keep on hand. If you have a chevy block I doubt you will have that problem. Also we carried a battery powered soldering iron. Our ignition wire would sometimes rattle off. A dab of soldier would hold that bugger for a long time.
In adition I would carry extra oil, a filter, extra anti freeze. You can use creek water but it would be much more convienant to have extra anti freeze ready to use. Extra rope and a good anchor are always usable. PADDLES, NEVERY FORGET PADDLES, NEVER!!! You never know when you will have to float downstream. If you frequently boat knik and jim creek invest in a good set of goggles that will not let sand through the edges. Anyone who has a good amount of time out at Knik know the wind can kick that nasty silt up in no time.
I have talked to a few airboat owners with winches and come alongs attached to their boats. They declared them to be the most worthless invests to date. One even had a sand anchor just incase he became stuck on the Jim Creek flats. He told me that the only thing his winch and sand anchor did was pull his bow down toward the sand and it did not help much. Others might have a different experience though. In our boat when we were stuck most of the time pulling the tiller forward and back over and over again would inch our way to water, a passenger pushing tremendously helped too. But if you dont have plastic on the bottom of the boat you are not going anywhere while suctioned down to the sand! Gravel bars, beaver dams, and just about everythign else you could get stuck on besides sand will let the boat glide over the top of it.
If you have an Airboats-R-US airboat I would consider having chicken wire welded to the cage. He made an argument to be one day that the chicken wire on the cage has no effect when it comes to safety and hurts the performance of the prop. I do not believe that nonsense and I consider it a matter of safety.
To end this thread, I would like to tell you to check your boat over very well before each and every run. Also make sure to check the oil and coolant level before every trip. We had airfilters go through our prop on numerous occasions. Its a weekend ruiner when you hear a loud BANG and look back only to see bits and pieces of a prop flying 100 feet in the air and the prop on the engine is left with nothing but little nobs, especially when your dozens of miles from the truck, this is when the paddles come in handy. Check nuts/bolts, airfilters, oilfilters, mufflers, and just about anything that has the ability to rattle loose and fly through the prop. When driving a cabless airboat do not wear a hat, we put more hats through the prop than you could imagine. Also check the boat for objects that can fly out. Containers, hats, life jackets, clothing, fishing poles, and fishing line get eaten alive in props.