BRANSON, Mo. — Branson Duck Tours is preparing to open in Spring of 2021. Their owner, Jaredan Braal, used to work as a biomedical device engineer. Now he is hoping to own the first duck boat company in Branson since one of the worst U.S. boating tragedies in recent history occurred on July 19, 2018.
“Branson has had a history with amphibious duck tours for over 40 years,” said Braal. “We’re heartbroken by the tragedy that led to the loss of life of so many people, but we think there’s a great opportunity to do things better. And we look forward to bringing this amazing Hydra Terra as our vehicle, which is much safer than the old ducks.”
Cool Amphibious Mfg. Int. LLC sells the Hydra Terra. They claim that the vehicle is “unsinkable” due to positive buoyancy foam-filled compartments.
“The Hydra Terras are specifically built for the tourism industry. They have an aluminum, foam-filled hole that provides positive displacement,” Braal explained. “They also have a four-foot freeboard, allowing them to handle much rougher waters and many other modern safety features.”
Karen Best was the mayor of Branson when a duck boat packed with tourists capsized on Table Rock Lake during a fierce storm, killing 17 of its passengers. She says she will never forget that day.
“I made a promise to them that we would never forget them, and I want to hold that promise true. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them.”
In our full interview with the former mayor, she explains her emotions and memories tied to Branson’s duck boats in the video below.