If you have never driven a cat boat – and chances are you haven’t – then you have to give it a try.
Cat boats are uniquely designed, highly stable motorized mini catamarans that can take sharp turns without tipping over for high speed rides in open water yet leisurely drift down a narrow canal for canoodling or exploration. Cat Boat Tours of Mount Dora is your exclusive option in Central Florida, offering memorable experiences with style and originality.
Thrust the throttle forward with your right hand, steer with your left, step on the gas, and you’re off!
David Seidel and his daughter, Abby, launching the cats for the day’s tour on Lake Dora.
At Cat Boat Tours of Mount Dora, you follow your guide, owner David Seidel, through Lake Dora at 32 mph. The boat cuts through eight miles of open water as the spray splashes softly on your face with the wind in your hair until you reach the Dora Canal. That’s only half the fun. The rest of the trip down the canal involves a slow, cat-like, stalking pace, taking in all of nature’s glory within an area widely regarded as “the most beautiful mile in the world.”
The 120-minute, narrated tour combines high-speed racing on the lake that begins from Gilbert Park, with gentle flotation through the Dora Jungle Canal, famous for its role in scenes from the classic film, “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The setting features 2,000-year-old cypress trees and is filled with various species of birds, reptiles and other wildlife.
Tours consist of five boats of two – one couple per boat. Seidel rides separately, guiding the group by radio. He provides an in-depth and fascinating history of the Dora Canal, pointing out wildlife along the way. On the way back, Seidel takes a different route, offering the greatest variety of scenery as well as smoothest water for the voyage.
The boat itself is something to behold. The cat boat is a high performance two-seater mini catamaran with stereo, ice cooler and dry storage area for cameras, cell phones, wallets and keys. “Cat” is short for catamaran, and is considered a motor boat, not a personal watercraft, like a jet ski. It was invented 47 years ago by Robert Craig and has been a staple in the Orlando area for the past 25 years.
Owner David Seidel instructs Barry and Annmarie Lucas on the finer points of Cat-Boating.
“They are some of the safest boats on the water. You cannot sink them, as they cannot take on water,” Seidel said. “In fact, they are extremely stable. You can take a hard turn at full speed and the boat does not tip over or roll. It is designed to drift.”
This tour is very special – one you would not find anywhere else in central Florida. Unlike a pontoon boat tour, the cat boat’s design provides an uninhibited view in every direction.
“There are boat owners that own 27-foot Scarabs or cabin cruisers, who see the cat boat for the first time and absolutely marvel over it,” Siebel said.
Simply stated, it is something they will never forget. The cat boat and the tour have flair you will always remember.
Open year round, dates and hours are: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. tours. When those tours sell out, David will add a 3:30 p.m. tour, which is by appointment only – no walk-ins. Bring your cameras and cell phones to record the trip. The cat boat has a dry storage compartment to protect your valuables from water damage or falling overboard. Water is provided, but you may bring your own favorite drinks – just no alcoholic beverages. Learn more or make a reservation by calling 352.816.9339 or visiting catboattours.com