Branson may soon be home to a new Table Rock Lake duck tour.
Branson Duck Tours LLC is looking to open in Branson this spring, according to Manager Jaredan Braal.
“We’re excited to a bring newer, safer duck tour back to the Branson, Missouri area,” said Braal. “Heartbroken about the tragedy that happened there before and really looking at how can we bring a nice, wholesome, fun family activity back to the Branson area that is a safe activity for everybody.”
On July 29, 2018 Stretch Duck 7, a Branson Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle, sank on Table Rock Lake, killing 17 of the 31 passengers and crew on board. Since then, Branson Ride the Ducks Owner Ripley Entertainment Inc. closed down its Branson location.
On Dec. 30, 2020 the office of Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft issued Branson Duck Tours LLC a Certificate of Organization, which gives them any rights granted to a limited liability company.
Following the duck boat tragedy in 2018, Braal said he and his partner believe they have found a safer solution to duck boat lake tours.
“My partner and I looked at what are the other opportunities that are out there and identified the amazing Hydra-Terra, which is a specifically designed amphibious vehicle by CAMI Industries that is designed specifically for the amphibious tour industry,” Braal said. “One of the things that really makes this boat stand out is that it has a foam-filled hull making it an unsinkable vessel.”
Braal said by filling the hull full of foam, it gives their amphibious vehicle positive displacement.
“Water can’t enter the hull, even if the boat was to have water come over the side or anything like that,” said Braal. “There’s no place in the boat for the water to go to the extent that it would cause the boat to sink. We’ve put some information on that, about how the Hydra-Terra is different from the old World War II style duck boats, we’ve put that on our website.”
On their website, bransonducktours.com, an informational section under “Proven To Be Unsinkable By The US Coast Guard” reads as follows:
“The Hydra-Terra is the only Coast Guard approved ’T’ Vessel with revolutionary, positive-buoyancy foam-filled compartments. The design has proven to be UNSINKABLE by the US Coast Guard. During Coast Guard testing, the drain plugs were removed from a Hydra-Terra and the engine room was fully flooded. The Hydra-Terra continued to float safely without any water entering the passenger compartment! With this revolutionary equipment and new safety procedures, this will be the safest duck ride ever to run in Branson, MO.”
Additionally the website states the foam inside the hull of the Hydra-Terra provides enough buoyancy for the fully loaded Hydra-Terra plus 1,000 pounds. In testing, when the drain plugs were removed to allow water to freely flood the center tunnel, the Hydra-Terra’s floor was still about eight inches above the water line.
“This is not a duck boat. I would not feel safe taking my family on a duck boat. This new vessel, the Hyrda-Terra, is specifically designed and meets all the US Coast Guard and DOT requirements for safety,” said Braal. “That’s where I feel comfortable, would feel comfortable taking my family on this boat and hope others will feel excited about this new opportunity.”
When asked about the potential community response to bringing a new duck tour to Branson Braal said, “Branson is a special place to us and there is an opportunity to do this better. With a focus on safety here, we really think that the way to do this better is with this new vehicle. Heartbroken over this tragedy where 17 people died in the past here due to maybe some of the old equipment and bad procedures. So really looking at taking a safety focused look at how can we bring this opportunity back to the Branson area.”
While Branson Duck Tours LLC has not nailed down the exact location yet, Braal said they hope to operate from a spot on the 76 Strip.
Braal added that they are currently hiring for all positions, including duck tour captains, tour guides, managers and assistant managers, and encourage interested applicants to visit their website for additional information.