• Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Watch: Here’s how you can command your own Hero boat along Dubai’s coast, license-free

ByMary M. Ward

Jan 19, 2022

Dubai: Can’t tell your port from your starboard, but have you always wanted to command your own speedboat along the Dubai coast? Here’s a good news, we found a place in Dubai where you can rent a boat and drive it too, and you don’t need a boat license.

Last week, I had the chance to try out a Hero OdySea self-driving boat at Dubai Harbor Marina. And, honestly, it was not only one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in Dubai, but also one of the best ways to see important sites along the emirate’s coastline.

As someone who enjoys water activities but has never tried water sports, self-driving boats or jet skis, I was testing new waters.

Normally you would need a boat license to drive a speedboat or to steer your boat, and I don’t have one. But, with Hero boats, that’s not a requirement.

You don’t know how to drive a boat? That’s not a problem either. Just before you start your tour, a guide uses a simulation model to teach you how to drive the Hero boat.

The boat which has a single speed to speed up, slow down, stop and reverse, is quite easy to maneuver. Additionally, a boat tour guide is assigned to board a separate boat near you.

Before my tour started, my boat tour guide, Ali Bakar Mohammed, helped ease the slight nervousness I was feeling and then showed me how to drive the boat.

He also demonstrated some hand controls that he would show when we were out, and I should follow his lead. He said, “You have to make sure you don’t pass me. Stay behind my boat or parallel to it, according to my instructions. Keep an eye on my manual orders at all times and follow them. And, reduce the speed of the boat in case we encounter big waves.

Alright, I walked with him to the wooden pier, where the boats were parked.

Boats parked at a jetty in the Port of Dubai, Marina Zone C
Image credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

I was always worried if I flipped the boat over by missteering it or taking a very fast turn in the water. Another boat guide, Sylvester Louie Delfin Bedia, who gave me a safety vest and helped me board my boat, assured me that Hero boats couldn’t tip over. “These are semi-rigid boats or rigid inflatable boats that are designed in such a way that they do not tip over,” he explained.

I followed the instructions to start the boat and followed Ali, steering the boat away from the pier, my heart racing.

But, just 10 minutes into the tour, I was comfortable maneuvering the boat. Soon, I was driving at a speed of 50km/h, the maximum you can reach on a Hero boat. Every time I slowed down, Ali loudly encouraged me.

He asked me to stay parallel to his boat most of the time, during the 90 minute tour.

Sometimes when larger boats or groups of jet skiers were passing, or when we were approaching ships that were parked, he would take the lead and I would carefully follow his hand controls.

We stopped at famous landmarks like Burj Al Arab, Atlantis, The Palm, World Islands and Bluewaters Island where Ain Dubai is located, the largest and tallest observation wheel in the world .

For tourists, the boat tour guide gives them more information about the landmarks at each stop.

But the best part of my visit was when I was able to steer the boat freely, further from shore, where no other boat interrupted us. On one side, the Dubai skyline peeked through the gathering mist, and on the other, the Arabian Sea. At that time, I was sure that it would not be the last time I would rent this boat.

the best part of my visit was when i was able to pilot the boat freely further from shore

The best part of my visit was when I was able to pilot the boat freely, further from shore
Image credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Cost and reservation

Tickets for the Hero Odysea signature and sunset boat tours are available on the Hero OdySea website for Dh700. There are four time slots at 9am, 11am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm (sunset tour). You must arrive at the Port of Dubai, Marina Zone C, 10 minutes prior to your booking time.

Can anyone ride the self-contained Hero Boats?

If you are a water sports adventurer or a tourist visiting Dubai, this is a must do activity. These boats can be driven by anyone over the age of 18, without physical injury or recent surgery. Pregnant women are also advised not to board the boat for safety reasons.

The boats can hold two people at a time and a total of 220 kg safely. Children over six years old can accompany an adult on the boat.

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