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Bet you never expected to see an amphibious boat being driven through the narrow streets of Casco Viejo. An attention grabber for sure, it causes quite a stir with children who trail along in its wake as if it were a festive parade.
The boat, SeaLegs, is a 23ft Zodiac with retractable wheels. No need for a boat trailer. It drives like a car and the wheels retract when it enters the water.
SeaLegs is actually the brand name, “but we’ve kept it as the name of the boat,” said Co-owner and Captain Jimmy Cabrera, “ It’s a sturdy aluminum boat with a V-hull, and it cruises at up to 35 knots.”
Tour guest, Alejandro Porras, described the boat ride as “the lunar landing meets a blue ocean experience.” He added: “We cruised out under clear blue skies into Panama Bay with great music blasting through the speakers, against the backdrop of the Bridge of Americas and the Biomuseum.” After navigating around the cargo ships waiting to cross the Isthmus, we throttled up “and 20 minutes later we arrived on the south side of Taboga,” he said.
Co-Owner of SeaLegs, KC Hardin, took his mom, Clara, out on one of the first cruises. “He said ‘Hey Mom, do you want to come try this out?’ And I’ve ridden in the boat several times since with friends,” said Clara. “You’re rocking back and forth as you cross the rocky beach at low tide. Once in deep water, the wheels come up, the engine goes down, and off you go.”
She explained, “Here in Casco, we get excited over new things. We’re a small enough community that we all love to see SeaLegs drive on the streets. Little kids just go nuts. They’ve never seen a boat that can be driven like a car, out of the boat house, down the street and into the water.”
“We built a boat house one block away from the American Trade Hotel,” said Cabrera, “so I can literally drive around the block and pick up passengers. The bow drops down, almost in a curtsy,” he said,” which allows everyone to step aboard.”
Said Cabrera, “There’s an old road where I can drive SeaLegs down the street to the beach and right into the water at high tide. At low tide, I cruise over the rocks and sand, under the new highway, and from there, it’s into the water and ‘wheels up’.”
It’s always exciting to take part in something that’s being introduced to the community,” said Clara, “You feel like you’re sort of blazing a trail on an new adventure.
The cost for private ½ day tour around Isla Taboga starts at $499 with a maximum capacity of seven. Check also for promotional rates of $99 per person (four-person minimum) on their Facebook: “Casco Charters S.A.”