Airboats and ice question

Tips, training, and safety.
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Airboats and ice question

Postby Bigler1982 » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:36 pm

This is my first winter owning an airboat in Kansas and next week the bottom drops out temp wise and all my favorite duck marshes will be frozen. However the ice shouldn't be more than a half inch thick and possibly thinner than that in places. Is there much risk of damage to the polymer/hull running an airboat over thin ice like that? How thick do you think the ice could be before it might cause problems? I would think an inch or thicker would be too much. I run a fiberglass hull FYI.

Also what is your opinion of running an airboat over mud banks that are frozen? I just don't want the ice eating up my hull/polymer if I can help it. Thanks for your feedback!

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Re: Airboats and ice question

Postby bigkavr » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:18 pm


Congrats on the airboat. :cheers:
As far as airboats and ice, it can be a great time, OR, a devastating one. It depends a lot on the type of airboat and operator training/skills. In your case, fiberglass hulls and ice DO NOT MIX. It can be done (operating fiberglass on ice) but it'll only take one "aw sh*t" to shatter your hull.
Even with poly on the hull, fiberglass gets real grumpy when it's cold. Something else to think about is that there is nothing more abusing for an airboat than traversing on/in ice. Ice is basically concrete!
If you insist on using your airboat for traveling on ice, then go SLOW. if the ice starts to break, then you'll have to go slower (sometimes slower than a walk).
You never want to get yourself in the position of being an icebreaker. the harmonics (vibrations) that buildup against the bottom of the hull WILL crack it. It can even damage aluminum if done long enough...

Snow and frozen mud are a little easier on fiberglass, but again, it only takes one impact from a log, stump or frozen nodule to shatter the fiberglass. If you must go, then please go slow, take your time, take safety/survival equipment for you and your airboat, and most important, file a float plan with someone so they know where your going and when you're expected back. Have fun and be safe.


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Re: Airboats and ice question

Postby Tommy Roachford » Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:15 pm

Great Advice!!!!!!!!

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Re: Airboats and ice question

Postby Whitebear » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:02 pm

Because of the very pointed question and expert advise,
I moved this from Airboat Talk to Safety.

"The Constitution is not so the government can restrain the people, it is so the people can restrain the government." Patrick Henry
The government cannot give anything --
that they have not first taken from someone else.

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Re: Airboats and ice question

Postby GMAC 76 » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:05 pm

I remember when the boys in Nebraska ran the boats in and on the ice in the platte and elkhorn rivers trapping and hunting seemed like the poly held up but the fiberglass especially the gelcoat took a beating especially when it was really cold

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Re: Airboats and ice question

Postby Sniper » Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:41 am


You cannot get any better advice than you can from bigKavar he is the most knowledgeable guy in Search & Rescue on the planet when it comes to running Ice with an Airboat
Sniper You can run but why die tired, If you heard my shot you were not the target
DOI Airboat Instructor/ Airboat Search & Rescue Specialist

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Re: Airboats and ice question

Postby GeeLeDouche » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:45 am

Agreed. We run a fair amount of ice here in Utah in the late season and I would say 99% of the boats in Utah are welded aluminum. I have heard stories of glass boats trying to run the ice and you could literally follow the trail of glass chunks all the way back to the ramp.
16x8 Utah style hull With a Waterthunder motor W/ 2.3 CH3 reduction swinging a 3 blade 78" R.
1648"M (& floatation pods) "Lowe" modified V Jon boat with a 31hp mudbuddy hyperdrive.

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