Take the trip of a lifetime with Captain John!
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Sit back and enjoy a tour with us on the pristine headwaters of the beautiful St. Johns River. Be captivated by the beauty and the ecology of the marsh.
The tour is appropriate for guests of all ages, family and friends or just an afternoon getaway. It is one hour long and as you can see the boat is equipped with AvComm headsets to muffle most of the engine noise and facilitate an unsurpassed narrative. The time of the year determines what, where, and when you will see it. In the summer early morning is best. When the water temperature drops in the late Fall middle of the day to later in the afternoon is the prime time.
As you ride through the marsh, you will learn to spot the alligators. Sometimes in the winter, you can pick them out from a quarter of a mile away, while sometimes you can be right on top of them and not see them.
On a typical tour, you will see gators of various sizes from hatchlings to some pretty big boys. I do love to snuggle up next to a big Gator every chance I get. We should get close enough for everyone taking pictures to get some really good close ups, so bring your camera. Most of the time I can maneuver the boat close enough for someone to reach out and pet one. When the water temperature cools off in the fall gators migrate to the levees and grass beds. The birds migrate in and out with the seasons while some species reside here year round. Over half of the year birds are nesting. The Angus and great blue heron start in December while the common moorhen finish up in late summer. Osprey, smaller heron, egrets and ibus take up most of the time in the middle. Florida is one of two places in the world where osprey live year round. Most of our Osprey migrate out in summer, a few residents stick around all year. Life in the ecosystem of the marsh is as diverse as it is interesting. From the minnows and tadpoles to the biggest alligator and the apple snails to the osprey and the plain old water lettuce to the beauty of the yellow lotus lily there's always something in the march to intrigue and press and captivate everyone anytime of the year.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're fixing to take a little airboat ride. We're going to do some slippin and slide and shake a few bushes too.
I am Captain Steve Hayes, certified Florida master naturalist through the University of Florida, United States Coast Guard master captain and I have over 30 years and thousands of hours of airboat experience.
More than just an airboat ride, it is an Eco Tour of the back–country with some history and some color thrown in for good measure. During an hour tour, you will hear stories of how Garcia's came to be, some facts about the wildlife that inhabit the area, and a story, or two, about some incidents of interest. A tour of the marsh is just a phone call away. To schedule a tour, give me a call and we will set up a time that is mutually agreeable to both of us. The airboat can accommodate as many as 13 adults comfortably. If you have a larger party, Capt. John can arrange multiple boats and/or multiple trips to accommodate any number of guests.. To guarantee a private tour, a discussion with Capt. John is in order. You and your party will meet me at Blue Cypress Recreation Area, also known as Garcia's, on County Road 512, 15-20 minutes before the scheduled ride time so that we may load the airboat and leave at our scheduled time. This will facilitate a full hour tour.
$50.00 per person plus FL sales tax.
It is advisable to allow enough time to stop at the closest exit to the park and visit their facilities, as the ones at the park are sometimes less than desirable. When your party arrives and the introductions are complete, we will load the airboat. Since I have, and maintain, a U.S. Coast Guard Captain's License, everyone on the vessel will wear a Coast Guard approved inflatable life vest and all children 12 and under will wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket, it is the law. Talk-Around Headsets by Av–Com are provided for ear protection and communication.
On a glide through the marsh, we will always see alligators, native and migratory birds, and flora. The time of the year determines where we will see the alligators and a variety of other sights. In the cooler months when the sun and air are warmer than the water, gators like to spend their days warming on the levees, while in the warmer months, they like the cooler water. Many species of birds are always here. Ospreys, egrets, herons, and ibis are here year round, while the ducks, falcons, hawks, white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, etc. come and go. In the spring, the egrets, herons, and ibis nest in a place that we call the Rookery. When this happens, there will be thousands of nests in a small area of the marsh. Photographic opportunities abound, from nests with eggs that haven't yet hatched to the floundering juveniles waddling around in the branches. For those wanting to see the flora, summertime is the best. As you can see, anytime is a great time to take a tour of the marsh.
Believe me, we are never lost. I've been runnin' round this marsh for a long time and we will always come back to where we started.