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emails to sheriff


Silent Prop
R. I. P.
sent by me:
Sheriff: Your noise test is not going to be representative of the actual conditions. My airboat while it will run on asphalt parking lots, is not intended to be run there and certainly would be noisier there than in the setting for which it is intended to operate.

I really wish you could see some way to enforce the 90 db @ 50' law in place now as that leaves some room for encouragement for us to get quiet if we want to use our boats. My boat has a 436hp 383 cu. in. chevy stroker engine on it and I ran a sound test on it in my yard and it meets the 90db @ 50' law. I am certain that almost every airboat out there could meet it also if it was enforced or even an attempt was made to enforce it.

Boating under the influence is a much more serious problem and even that receives very little attempt at enforcement. Applying the logic of banning something that is not in accordance with the law as it relates to sound would require that all alcoholic beverages be banned on the waterways also. I don't think that would last very long didn't they try to ban alcohol once.

If you would be interested in doing a logical sound test under real conditions I would be happy to bring my boat. We could even do it on the lake where you live up there. I would only need minimal time notice so I could arrange my work schedule to be there.

Sincerely Yours

response back;
I’m in receipt of your e-mail to Sheriff Oelrich; however he is out of the office today. I wanted to take an opportunity to respond to you immediately since the demonstration will take place tomorrow.

It is neither Sheriff Oelrich’s intention nor claim that he will be conducting a scientific demonstration of the noise levels for the purpose of mandating any specific sound level. That decision has been already been made in several legal forms, state and local. It is up to the local county commission to determine if they wish to further limit the 90db levels. We are not and have not suggested any further limitations, but simple wish for the county commission to have some general idea how loud the irresponsible airboaters can get without proper mufflers.

The demonstration is simply for the commission members to hear the difference between an airboat with a muffler and an airboat without a muffler. The Sheriff has arranged for the boats to be the same make and model for this demonstration. The commission has to then determine what actions, if any, to take if they feel the situation as presented by the Sheriff and other citizens in previous meetings requires attention or not.

If your schedule allows, please feel free to stop by tomorrow around 1130 hours for this demonstration. I will also ensure the sheriff reviews a copy of your e-mail by tomorrow’s demonstration.

Col. Gainey

Chief of Staff


Alachua County Sheriff’s Office

sent by me:
Col. Gainey:

Thank you for your quick response. I will be unable to attend tomorrow but I do appreciate your clarification on the SHERIFFS intentions. I believe a stricter enforcement of the 90db law would result in satisfying many of the opponents of airboat noise. I realize that some will never be satisfied unless we all were using canoes and kayaks on one side and on the other side there will always be some irresponsible airboaters who choose not to run mufflers just as some people choose to speed and other things.

It might not even require a strict enforcement of the 90db simply using real mufflers would go a long ways towards the end goal but 90 is the current law and I know the FWC is trying to meet it as well and is having some difficulty.

It seems that for so long everyone has not had to deal with any enforcement on mufflers that it has now become a major problem. I do however hope that some solution short of banning airboats can be reached. I agree that noise in the populated areas is a major problem and must be addressed but once again not trying to sound like a broken record here, why not just enforce the law as it exists I believe that would cause a major shift in the attitude of most airboaters. Those of us that are trying to comply do not want to be penalized by those who are not when no agency is ticketing those who are causing the problem.

Thank you and the sheriff and if you ever do want to have a real condition sound test please let me know I would be happy to participate. I believe people are going to get the message pretty soon and we will see a marked change in things.

Oh yeah if you guys have any of the go fast boats up there on ORANGE LAKE please don't overlook them when sound testing it isn't just airboats down here but it is sorta like the pitbull dog gets blamed for all the dog bites when the chow breed bites more than any other breed.

so lets at least try to be fair on this matter we spend a lot of money in an area where we run on gas and lodging meals and other things not to mention the number of jobs we help create and the registration fees we pay for boats and trailers.

Thanks again

resonse back:

Reply from Sheriff Oelrich to your email:

I am very aware that a test in town will not be a scientific measurement. I couldn’t get the County Commission to come out to the Sheriff’s Office Administration Building much less out to one of our lakes.

I would be very interested in your airboat set up. If you have a Chevy 383 stroker motor that truly complies with 90db at 50 ft. you must have a wonderful muffler/prop combination that we might use to illustrate to others that with proper mufflers and prop, combined with operator discretion we can successfully reduce the negative excess noise from airboats.


Stephen M. Oelrich

Alachua County Sheriff

my response: link to video of my boat @ southern ab.

The boat you hear first is a 4 cyl aircraft that is idling past the camera. I am turning 4900 rpms at the end of the video. I run a master blaster propellor whiuch was designed for low noise. Hope this helps John

then sent this:

Also the FWC stopped in after they saw the video clip to see if my muffler guy would build them one just like mine. They have not had any luck but then they have been going to airboat shops instead of muffler shops. We lost no horsepower and appear to have gained torque and oh yeah we lost a whole lot of the noise.

I will be getting my boat tested by the state at least according to the FWC guy who came by. I have tested it and I can meet the 90db and I am making a couple of more changes to it to make it even quieter. It can be done and it doesn't cost a fortune either.

I will give you a call when the modifications are done and you guys may want to fix your boats as well Thanks

so thats where we are right now
11 July 2005

Stephen M. Oelrich
Sheriff of Alachua County

Col. Gainey
Chief of Staff
Alachua County Sheriff's Office


I have become aware of your plan to demonstrate airboat noise generation at Tuesday, July 12, Board of County Commissioners meeting. It is my understanding this test will be done in an urban setting and not in realistic operating conditions. This causes me great distress as I have a vested interest in the outcome and wish this to be a realistic impression upon those whose vote hold our future at their fingertips.

I am a native Florida citizen, a USCG Captain and Florida licensed guide and have airboated for business and pleasure for decades. My son is also a USCG Captain and Florida licensed guide. Both of our airboats are fully muffled and we operate at night on remote and not-so-remote lakes and - to my knowledge - have never generated a single complaint of any kind.

I and my clients have spent thousands of dollars over many years while airboating in Alachua County. My guided activities in your county include nature and wildlife observation tours, frog hunting excursions and other fully lawful activities. We use the waters of Watermelon Pond, Newnan's Lake, Orange Lake and Lake Lochloosa for these activities. We rent lodging, buy meals, community services and make a multitude of other local expenditures every time we visit your county. We have no interest in offending anyone.

My great concern with the direction this airboat noise demonstration seems to be taking is simply that all law abiding citizens will be penalized for the actions of a tiny but onerous minority.

This issue is exactly like the users of other vehicles or watercraft. Be it Harley's, 4WD trucks, Trans Ams, Toyota Supras, ATVs or PWCs - there is always an outlaw minority that makes asses out of themselves with no regard for others. Your office and officers do not allow any of those to operate unmuffled.

My understanding is that Alachua County already has a 90 Dba noise ordinance on its books. I ask that ordinance be enforced against the easily identifiable scofflaws. Most muffled airboats comply with that requirement when a short allowance is made to get the boat on plane. Same as you enforce the other laws of your county. Arrest or cite the violators and allow those who operate within the law to continue to do so.

I am an active member of Florida Airboat Association - FAA - and we are currently working very closely to scientifically determine the most effective methods of eliminating certain airboat noises. We ask only that you respect those efforts and support reasonable and effective measures to achieve the goals of the overwhelming majority of airboat enthusiasts. Deal with the outlaw element same as you do with other unlawful activities.

Respectfully Yours,

Capt. Dave Markett
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If so here's directions

County Administration Building - Directions and Parking

The Alachua County Administration Building is located in downtown Gainesville on the corner of East University Avenue and Southeast First Street. The address is 12 Southeast First Street. Regular business hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The County Administration Building houses the offices of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, the Supervisor of Elections Office, the Property Appraisers Office, the main branch of the Tax Collectors Office, just to name a few. To get to the County Administration Building, from Interstate 75 take the Newberry Road exit, exit 76, and continue east on Newberry Road, passing the University of Florida, until you reach the intersection of East University Avenue and Southeast First Street. The County Administration Building is on your right. Short and long term parking meters and free two hour parking spaces are available near the County Administration Building. Parking meter tickets are issued for meter violations, so be sure to have enough change for the meters when conducting your business.