Longest running airboat discussion on the internet.
Capt steve
Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:36 pm
Location: Central Florida


Postby Capt steve » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:00 pm

I received a recent notification from the USCG regarding the tour boat that hit a tree. I hope it’s ok to post it word for word here. I did a cut and paste. I’m a tech idiot.

Well here it is:
A Delayed Repair Can Bite You in the Derriere Performing prompt maintenance
is critical!

Recently, several passengers onboard a commercial airboat tour were injured
when the boat lost steering and hit a tree. Fortunately, there were only a
few serious injuries because the boat was not underway at full speed when
the accident occurred. This Safety Alert serves as a reminder to vessel
owners, operators and those who repair these vessels of the importance of
recognizing risks and ensuring proper maintenance and repairs are made to
minimize risk.

On some airboats, steering is achieved by directing the flow of (propulsion)
fan air across two vertically placed rudder foils. As the foil position is
changed the directional thrust acting on the stern of the vessel varies.
The foils move in tandem because of a linkage between the two foils. The
steering cable is typically only connected to one of them. The end of the
body of the steering cable is secured to the vessel and locked in place by
two nuts. (Image A) Attached near this fitting is a sleeve which covers the
final end of the enclosed cable. The end of the sleeve is bellowed outwards
and inserted into the end of the main cable body which is then crimped
inward. (Image A) This joint is covered by a rubber boot to prevent dirt and
debris from entering into the cable body and interfering with the enclosed
cable's movement. The crimped connection allows for some angular movement
at the end of the cable.

Over time, the crimped connection can become deformed due to the stresses
occurring at the joint. Ultimately, in this case, the parts separated and
the end of the cable lost its linear rigidity, putting slack into the
control cable and causing a loss of control of the steering foils. (Image
C) In this instance, the rubber boot covering the joint was found to be
damaged and there appeared to be tool marks at the location of the joint.
It's likely that in the past the joint was held compressed together by the
use of Vice-grip type pliers. The person who may have placed the Vice-grips
on the connections failed to recognize the potential risk of a loss of
steering should the connection fail. It was not proper to make repairs in
this instance and the cable should have been completely replaced.

The following image shows a Morse/Teleflex/Cablecraft "type" push-pull
control cable assembly sleeve connection point that was fatigued and had
begun to fail.

Throughout the history of Marine Safety and Prevention activities,
inadequate or improper maintenance and repairs, combined with the failure to
recognize potential risks as a result of those maintenance and repair
efforts, have led to numerous marine casualties involving substantial
injuries, fatalities, environmental damage and economic costs to the
involved parties. The causal factors behind the decisions to perform
inadequate or improper maintenance or improper repairs oftentimes are
related to economic factors which limit the available options to those
involved, causing them to make a poor decision.

As a result of this information and other similar instances the Coast Guard
strongly recommends to owners and operators and those involved with the
maintenance of these and all vessel types:

. To develop an operational paradigm where maintenance and repair
items are evaluated carefully, recognizing the potentials risks associated
with their operation should the repair or maintenance item not be properly
performed or achieved in a timely manner.

. For airboat operators specifically: Owners and operators of
airboats that use flexible type steering control cables are reminded of the
need to thoroughly inspect cables before use, including areas under the dust
boots. Due to the forces encountered on airboat applications, owners are
also encouraged to ensure these cables are properly maintained and to
immediately replace a worn cable. Owners are discouraged from attempting to
repair a factory crimp.

This Safety Alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not
relieve any domestic or international safety, operational or material
requirement. This information has been developed by the Marine
Investigators at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Saint Petersburg. Distributed by
the Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis, Washington DC.
Questions may be sent to

Well that’s it. Check those cables and connections carefully fellas. Be safe out there
100 ton master captain
Professional airboat operator
I made enough money to buy Miami,
But I pi$$ed it away so fast

User avatar
Site Supporter - IV
Site Supporter - IV
Posts: 1773
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:23 pm
Location: Bartow FL


Postby kwanjangnihm » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:06 pm

Capt Steve can you post the photos that came with the details of the crash?
" I don't care who you are back in the world, you give away our position one more time, I'll bleed ya, real quiet. Leave ya here. Got that? "

Capt steve
Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:36 pm
Location: Central Florida


Postby Capt steve » Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:00 pm

I have the report in pdf. I’m an idiot and don’t know how to post the memo from the USCG. I took a screen shot and will post that
100 ton master captain
Professional airboat operator
I made enough money to buy Miami,
But I pi$$ed it away so fast

Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:47 pm


Postby Alvinlee1915 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:21 pm

Easy to get yourself killed or maimed if you ain't watching what you doing. Even without mechanical failure.

Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 1:56 pm


Postby stonny9 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:03 am

My bro in law had a new steering cable fail when out 1.5 year ago. The sleeve at the rudders came apart. We had to stop a few times to fix coming in. That was after he built the boat and on the first launch figured out he had built the steering backwards. I think he just connected it wrong at the rudder. LOL sometimes the finer details get you. He said just getting back to the ramp was a chore.

Site Supporter - III
Site Supporter - III
Posts: 2555
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:38 am
Location: Naturecoast, Florida


Postby SWAMPHUNTER45 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:14 am

From what I can read of the document it appears maintenance and mechanical failure are the cause.

I know of two marine steering related mechanical failures that date back to the very early 90s and both were identical. The causation was the reuse of a poly lock nut. The repeated assembly / disassemble of the steering linkage as part of other maintenance required the steering to be bolted up then unbolted. This caused the material inside the nut that provided a tension to wear and fail to hold.
In both cases load stress or vibration caused the nuts to back off and the linkage to separate causing a total loss of control whole running under power.

I replace poly nuts associated with critical components now after a single tension cycle.

Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:33 am


Postby SeatCover » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:41 am

I know it's an older thread but everyone with teleflex cables please go yank on the sleeve that guides the cable straight. Pull on it good if it comes loose like I had while riding, you could be in a world of trouble. The flex cable inside will bend when trying to compress and you will lose steering one way. Thankfully I saw what was happening and had time to turn right ( pull the cable) before hitting something. I fixed the problem by putting a few clamps on the rubber sleeve that hides where it breaks and comes loose, just a band aid until I get a new cable. And please folks look your boat over for loose bolts etc. before every ride, airboat can be very dangerous. Be safe everyone and happy slidin'.
12' Cut Gilleo, Angle Valve 0-320, 72" Whisper Tip. Goes wherever I point it. :florida:

Return to “Airboat Talk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 67 guests