Star-spangled speed ride: New thrill boat in Destin

Savannah Chastain
The Star-Spangled Banner proudly ‘flies’ across the water in Destin with The Screaming Eagle.

It’s finally July, and in celebration of our nation’s birthday this week everything in sight is red, white and star-spangled blue, including a brand new speed boat in the Destin harbor, The Screaming Eagle.

“When we were doing the research to find a speed boat, we saw the red, white and blue one and the heart said, ‘That’s it.’ It’s a thing of beauty,” said owner Lisa Hurt.

The 34-foot Sea Rocket arrived in Destin last month and is truly patriotic from bow to stern. The vessel’s name was actually adopted from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division which earned the nickname The Screaming Eagles from their recognizable eagle-head patch and swift, accurate air maneuvers throughout American history.

“Having the military motif put on it, it just made sense to name it that,” said Captain Billy Lawson. “So many pontoon boats and other people in the water see The Screaming Eagle and start saluting the boat.”

“We’re big military freaks,” added Lisa’s husband and co-owner, Barry Hurt. “We love the military and what better way to show our support?”

In fact, the Hurts told The Log that military personnel, both active duty and retired earn a discount when riding with Screaming Eagle Sports.

“We have military Mondays, where military members and their families can ride for $15,” said Lisa.

Lisa and Barry have lived in Destin for six years and used to own a scooter and golf cart rental business, Surf and Cycle before launching the new water sports endeavor Screaming Eagle Sports.

“We’ve always wanted to be on the water, and we finally got an opportunity,” said Barry of the change from land to water. “We kept hunting and hunting until we found something unique, and everyone we have taken out has loved it.”

The speed boat is a powerful water thrill ride. Its twin Yanmar diesel engines combine for a total of 630 horse-power thrust.

“It’s designed like a formula-one racing boat,” said Lawson. “We ride it between 35-45 miles per hour, but it makes you think you’re doing 60. I took my granddaughter out and she said, ‘Pappy it’s like a roller coaster on the water,’ and that’s exactly what it is.”

Lawson has been a boat captain since 1978, and said that The Screaming Eagle is a favorite for him.

“This is my first excursion boat,” he said. “I’ve worked on oil work boats, crew boats, charters and party boats but this is something different and it makes it fun.”

The 14-passenger speed boat runs trips daily from Herron Harbor, and is gearing up to make a splash on the Fourth of July weekend.

“It’s an hour-long trip, we go into the Gulf, and into the bay,” said Lisa. “All you need is your sunscreen and a towel.”

Screaming Eagle Sports is located at 314 Harbor Blvd. For more information visit or call 424-3088.