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Old 05-04-2005, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default How to drive a jet boat

I just bought a jet boat and have never driven one before, except for the test drive. Anyone know of any source of information regarding how to drive a jet boat? I've driven a prop boat since I was ten and I've owned a drift boat, but I plan on running rivers and would rather not learn the hard way! Thanks for your help.

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Old 05-04-2005, 01:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

The one peice of advise I will give you is there will come a time that the only solution to the situation you are in is more power especially if you are running skinny water. You will be amazed at the responsiveness of a jet, but remember there has to be water running through the jet before you will have any control of the steering. It sounds like you are doing things the right way by trying to find info. There was a guy on the Cowlitz a few years ago that was thrown from his boat along with the wife and two kids on the mayden voyage of his new jet boat. I don't know that they ever figured out why it happened but I remember that the assumption was that he was not used to the responsiveness of the boat. Whether he was screwing around or he was trying to avoid a collision with something. Oh yeah, by the way the guy drowned, wife and kids were ok. find a wide open space and get used to it before you attemt to do anything in shallow water or around a lot of people.
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Old 05-04-2005, 01:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I plan on a lot of practice in a lake before tackling crowds or rivers.
Thanks again
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Old 05-04-2005, 03:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Lots of good info <on line. Google "RiverJet">
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Old 05-04-2005, 03:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

With enough water under you, going downriver in a jet boat can be taken rather easily...sort of a Driftboat plus.

But if there's little water under you, you have to be up on step.

That's the speed the boat requires to be up on step PLUS the speed the water's moving downstream.

Negotiating tight bends and thru shallow rapids heading downriver, things get moving pretty quickly. It's amazing how fast the scenery can be going by!

"Things" can (and do) get pretty exciting at times, until you're seasoned. :blush:
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Audball,
PM IFISHER joliver. He is a Captain with Clackamas Fire, and has been the Fire Districts Jet Boat Operator Instructor for 10 plus years.
He owns and operates a company called Marine Experience, which offers private Jet Boat operation classes.He's truely a Pro, both at operating Jet Boats, and teaching.
You won't be disappointed.
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Old 05-04-2005, 06:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Depending on what pump you have, don't forget to spend time practicing driving in reverese. Some of the pumps create a steering situation that is backwards from what you are used to with your vehicle or a prop boat. Most of the scratches and dings in my boat came from the first few trips out, just not being familiar with it all. Run lots of gas through it while it is still under $3/gal.
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Old 05-04-2005, 06:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

The main thing for me when we went from a prop to a pump (we boated for many years w/ a prop) I had always trailered the boat, but like these folks have reported, you have to stay under power to have control so trailering the sled really threw me for a loop (thankfully not literally), especially when the launch was crowded--so my resolution was that I would to back the trailer down the ramp & let hubby get her on the trailer. even today, I tend to oversteer in slow conditions, like trailering or pulling achorline,or pulling up to the dock, but I manage. I do think it is vitally important that if you have a spouse or significant others boating with you, that they also get a feel for the boat--you never know when it will be necessary for someone else to step up. The class suggested sounds like a great idea.
But I'm happy to say I have a comfort level to take it out myself (& hubby trusts me enough to let me get it out) so I have taken the kids or just the gals out for the crabs. Good luck on breaking it in!!!
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Old 05-04-2005, 06:51 AM   #9
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To start I would head to the lake and get used to what it can do. Get out by yourself and throw a bouy in the water. Then manuver around the bouy at low speed, like you are docking the boat. After you are comfortable with zero speed control, then get on step and go by your bouy as close as possible, or head right for it and slip around it at the last minute like you are going to miss a rock in the river. If you mess up and hit it you won't crash a hole in your boat like if you were practicing in the river.

When you've familiarized your self with how your boat handles at all speeds and want to tackle a river, find someone (or hire someone) to come along to help.

Have fun!
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Old 05-04-2005, 07:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

There is a ton of info in this thread...

Oops! How do you control this thing???

:grin:

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Old 05-04-2005, 07:24 AM   #11
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Do you have much experience on the river? Perhaps in a drift boat?

Driving the boat is the easy part. What you really need to learn is how to read the water (and river bank) on the rivers. My suggestion would be to hook up with a couple experienced operators and take them out on the river with you (once your comfortable with your boat) or better yet go out with someone else in their boat (It seems everyone is a self proclaimed fishing God when they learn you have a sled).

Start with a stretch of river when the water is up and the run is easy, then continue on that same stretch of water as it drops.

Remember, every trip, you have to read the water, not just memorize the channels. The channels change, but the water always tells the story.

By the way, what did you buy?
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Old 05-04-2005, 07:37 AM   #12
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

I am a fairly new sled owner ( 20'open 200hp Alumaweld)get to know how the boat reacts at various speeds before you do to much on a skinny river. They are amazing machines, but do be careful. Don't take your eyes off the water in front of you, those hidden rocks and things can sneak up on you pretty quick. In the short time I've had my boat I've seen a few near tragic situations...the lesson? Get a Mustang Automatic PFD and wear it. They are very comfortable so you won't hesitate to wear it, they go on and off easily and most important if you are knocked unconscious before you hit the water it will inflate and save your life. A few of my "lower I.Q." buddies have made comments about my masculinity because I wear it, Oh well... as they say wearing a life jacket isn't dorky but drowning without one is! Good luck,Be cautious,Have fun!
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Old 05-04-2005, 07:41 AM   #13
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

I thought this was going to be a HUMOR post!
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Me too....I was looking for a funny picture or video clip. Oh well. :grin:
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:28 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

What kind of boat??? Where are the pics showing off your new beauty??? Inquiring minds want to know man.

I love my Jetboat and it can get/go into many places.

While you are waiting to start your class should elect to do so, get out to the lake as you mentioned and drive her full tilt and everything in between.

Get a feel for how quickly she can turn, accelerates...stops. By stop, I mean you can safely go from full steam ahead to heavy reverse trust in one motion without damaging your systems (designed that way) and...she will stop on a dime. So much so that you can drive a small wall of water over the windshield if you go full reverse - experiment starting little reverse working way up from full throttle to heavy reverse. That stop maneuver will get you out of some major trouble in the skinny water and you will be happy to have it your tool kit some day.

Another helpful hint is clearing the pump intake when she gets clogged by weeds, kelp, grass, etc... You will know because she will loose a bunch of thrust and sound/feel as if she is slipping out of gear or the clutch is slipping terrible. No worries just shut engine off weather moving at full-speed or not. Better at speed as the water moving under the hull will scrub the blockage from the grate. No harm is done shutting her off while running at full speed. If at idle when clog happens shut her down right now and most of stuff will fall away from intake. If not start your kicker and full throttle around the bay for a few minutes. If that doesn't work and your kicker is not an option to get you home or trailered up you will need to clear the intake manually - a 6-10" wide plastic rake on a 6' handle is just the ticket for reaching from the stern forward to the grate. Practice the rake move in your driveway - mark the on the handle the distance you need to extend to hit the intake. Personally, I don't carry a rake as I have only had a bad clog once and that was in the Salt at the dock while trailering...the rest of the time I stay away from offending weeds, kelp, grass and they so rare in fresh water.

For approaching the dock or trailering, I like to think of driving a jet is akin to piloting a lunar module while attempting to dock with the mother-ship. No real direct drive control and floaty steering. It is the art of forward and aft trust control with drifty steering - plan for lots of lag time and take it slowwww. The "stabilized approach"... get her lined up a ways out and maintain heading and speed.

Final note: As you will find there is no neutral with a jet - always slight forward or aft movement. As you approach the dock, do it slowly so you can get a feel for wind and current drift - important...plan on shutting on the engine just as you reach your desired point. 90% of time I will be close and parallel with dock but moving forward slightly (no neutral remember) and will ease to reverse and shut engine just as she thinks about moving backwards - voila you walk back grab the dock and look like the pro we all believe we can be.

Reverse is a powerful option should need to use it but, it too will screw up even the best of approaches so use it sparingly and wait (remember lag time) for the desired result when close to the dock/trailer. Best to go find a piece of shore line or quiet dock and practice until get the feel...but then you knew that already.

Once you're feeling frisky about your skills then sniff around your area with some locals for some good beginner skinny water. It won't be long.

Congrats on the new boat. If you're like me, you will fall in love a little bit more each time you run her.
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:33 AM   #16
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Quote:
To start I would head to the lake and get used to what it can do. Get out by yourself and throw a bouy in the water. Then manuver around the bouy at low speed, like you are docking the boat. After you are comfortable with zero speed control, then get on step and go by your bouy as close as possible, or head right for it and slip around it at the last minute like you are going to miss a rock in the river. If you mess up and hit it you won't crash a hole in your boat like if you were practicing in the river.

When you've familiarized your self with how your boat handles at all speeds and want to tackle a river, find someone (or hire someone) to come along to help.

Have fun!

The bouy idea is an exellent suggestion..wish someone had told me that one when I first purchased my jet.

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Old 05-04-2005, 08:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Here is a funny clip from a couple of local boys running a side channel of the Lewis River. Good boat handling - some time you just got to go for it or, get stuck in the middle of now where.

Skinny Water - 10mb download - Dailup beware

You will need the Apple Quicktime Player to view.
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:44 AM   #18
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Here's what you can do with a jet...


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Old 05-04-2005, 08:47 AM   #19
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

That looks pretty cool - how many fish eggs can you grind up when you pull that move?
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:48 AM   #20
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

I would not recomend the "gravel bar launch" for the novice or those w/ outboard pumps :smile: Nor do I recomend cracking your shoe in half, 7 miles from the nearest launch, up in a canyon w/ lots of skinny water between the two.... dont ask how i know.
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:54 AM   #21
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat



Add lots O horse power . 1362 Cubes Fun .
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Old 05-04-2005, 09:05 AM   #22
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Go slowwwwww when docking. 50% of the time I shut off the jet and use the kicker. I also go very slow when approaching the dock, try to neutralize your movement with a slight backward thrust, shut off the engine, and grab the dock with a boat hook. One guy on the back and one guy on the front and your there!. All of the scratchs I have on my boat came from the first two weeks I owned it.

Just like landing a plane, if your approach is bad because of speed, current, wind, or a crowded dock - go around and try it again.
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Old 05-04-2005, 10:07 AM   #23
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Wow, thanks for all the great information. The boat I just bought is a 1992 North River Ranger with 350 w/Kodiak pump.
I thank everyone who took the time to respond. Lots of good info, I'm "pumped" to start learning. If it weren't for this #&@* job.........
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Old 05-04-2005, 10:25 AM   #24
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

For those of you that want to see some very interesting river running take a look at these video clips....

http://www.eagleracing.ca/RMedia/
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Old 05-04-2005, 10:56 AM   #25
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Wow, awesome video. Those guys are out of control!
I think it'll be a while before I'm tryin anything like that.

Thought of another question. What are the dangers/risks involved with sucking up sand/gravel/mud etc. into the jet pump if I go into water that is too shallow? Thanks
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Old 05-04-2005, 11:04 AM   #26
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Audball, contact John Oliver as was stated earlier! He is awesome! He does this for a living. Keep a close eye on a new publication that is all about jetboats. There are alot of local boaters that participate on the forum section. There may be another gathering in a local river. The biggest concern is learning to read water! Then apply your boats ability to the water conditions. Many factors come into running rivers. Hydraulics, terrian, etc.
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Old 05-04-2005, 11:15 AM   #27
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

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The one peice of advise I will give you is there will come a time that the only solution to the situation you are in is more power especially if you are running skinny water.
Very well said!! without water pumping, you will not turn! Just takes some time to get used to.. Another thing that i did when i bought my first jet, was i took the boat to the ramp in the evening just at dark (as long as lighted) and backed the trailer in the water, and practiced for about an hour pulling the boat on and off the trailer, just so i was comfortable and didnt look like a complete idiot the first time at the ramp with 20 other fisherman waiting in line.......It would be well worth your time, believe me.. And there wont be anyone there to tease ya
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:09 PM   #28
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Quote:
For those of you that want to see some very interesting river running take a look at these video clips....

http://www.eagleracing.ca/RMedia/
After seeing that, I think Daddy needs a new toy!!
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Old 05-04-2005, 04:59 PM   #29
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:25 PM   #30
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pedal to the metal and pray to God
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:29 PM   #31
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Had to do it on the upper Deschutes for work many years ago. I seriously don't know how I survived. When you expect a problem in a rapids, go for the deepest looking spot, and pray at full speed! Worked for me! Wear a life vest!
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Old 05-04-2005, 07:45 PM   #32
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Man, that video on the is nuts, do you think the Super soda's in their hands had anything to do with it!
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Old 05-16-2005, 12:17 PM   #33
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

I bought my jet (and first boat) this summer. 22' North River Commander with the 6.0L. Practice the docking and loading. Slow speeds are tough. The bow steering (when in reverse) was a problem at first. Lots of times I started turning the wrong way...not good when unloading next to other rigs .
I'm completely learning myself and will likely contact a proper trainer. It's amazing what can be done in these things...it's just best to find out what cannot/should not the less expensive way.

Would be interested in trying to get a couple folks together for a river day in WA????
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Old 05-16-2005, 01:49 PM   #34
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Number one, do not maintain at 100% throttle unless you are running a straight line on open water. If you need to turn sharply you will need to throttle up. You do not steer these boats, you push them around the corners.

Number two, if you get in trouble in shallow water, DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT cut the throttle. It's counter-intuitive but the best thing is to punch it. You will only increase your draft by cutting throttle and you will lose the ability to steer.

Nunber three, when you are ready to take on a river, run the rapid then stop in the pool and scout your next move. This is the pattern most people follow unless then know the river very well.
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Old 05-16-2005, 01:55 PM   #35
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Quote:
For approaching the dock or trailering, I like to think of driving a jet is akin to piloting a lunar module while attempting to dock with the mother-ship. No real direct drive control and floaty steering.


You are so right!
Add a cross wind, chop and some spectators at the Fishery and you have a recipe for an embarrassment second to none!
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Old 05-16-2005, 02:13 PM   #36
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Number one, do not maintain at 100% throttle unless you are running a straight line on open water. If you need to turn sharply you will need to throttle up. You do not steer these boats, you push them around the corners.

Number two, if you get in trouble in shallow water, DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT cut the throttle. It's counter-intuitive but the best thing is to punch it. You will only increase your draft by cutting throttle and you will lose the ability to steer.

Nunber three, when you are ready to take on a river, run the rapid then stop in the pool and scout your next move. This is the pattern most people follow unless then know the river very well.

Number four....when possible, always run an unknown river upstream first!

TR
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Old 05-16-2005, 02:30 PM   #37
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

IME, it's easier to trailer under a little throttle. When I'm coming in, I give it just a little more throttle than idle to maintain steerage. Remember, the less throttle, the less control you have. This is especially true in fast current/windy situations.

Once the bow of the boat is centered and about to trailer, cut power to idle, let the boat settle and then power on.

Last, and again this is just my own experience, if you make a mistake and start to drift, turn, etc... use the gas to halt your progress. I don't mean lay on the gas and wash everyone around you out, but give it a good goose to regain control.

FWIW.
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Old 05-16-2005, 02:31 PM   #38
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Quote:
Number two, if you get in trouble in shallow water, DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT cut the throttle. It's counter-intuitive but the best thing is to punch it.
Number 2A

This is absolutely true right up until the point the boat is no longer moving! :blush:

Any further need for clarity can be addressed by doing a search for "The Black Duck Incident"

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Old 05-16-2005, 04:42 PM   #39
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Hog-Massa! I was gonna recommend that exactly!
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Old 05-16-2005, 05:28 PM   #40
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Quote:
Quote:
Number one, do not maintain at 100% throttle unless you are running a straight line on open water. If you need to turn sharply you will need to throttle up. You do not steer these boats, you push them around the corners.

Number two, if you get in trouble in shallow water, DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT cut the throttle. It's counter-intuitive but the best thing is to punch it. You will only increase your draft by cutting throttle and you will lose the ability to steer.

Nunber three, when you are ready to take on a river, run the rapid then stop in the pool and scout your next move. This is the pattern most people follow unless then know the river very well.

Number four....when possible, always run an unknown river upstream first!

TR
Remember these 4 things.

Also, learn to run a river that is relatively easy and try to pick a time of year that there is little boat traffic and good flows.

If you are new to boating, take a look at what your wake is doing at different speeds. Sometimes new boat owners think that they are doing the right thing by going slow (half throtle) by other boats. In reality, a half throttle wake is the largest wake you could produce. You will get alot of bad looks this way.

Good luck and have fun. Craig
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Old 05-16-2005, 07:39 PM   #41
pksgundogs
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

I see you are from Renton. I suggest calling Glen Wooldridge of Wooldridge Boats to get Dave Mullins contact info here in the Puget Sound Area. Mullins is a well known jet boat and water rescue instructor around here. You can take some lessons from Mullins in your boat.
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Old 05-17-2005, 06:47 AM   #42
sunshinefisherman
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Hog Master, I feel your pain.

I was running a riffle downstream on the clack 3 years ago and decided that the water looked better "over there" I bobbled over football size rocks for about 50 feet. OUCH.

Major dents and a motor mount out of alignment. Thank goodness for State Farm. They ponyed up to the tune of $8000 for that little indiscretion.

The one silver lining is that Magnum Marine upgraded my boat's bottom to 1/4" with a 3/4" plate in front of the intake. Bulletproof!
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Old 05-17-2005, 07:24 AM   #43
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Default Re: How to drive a jet boat

Which, if you look at posts, if not admissions, from nearly every experienced jet boat owner out there, the old axiom holds true:

There are two kinds of white river runners;

Those who have found the bottom

And those that will.

It is a given, that if you run enough, a day will come you don't miss a rock, you find gravel on that 6" run that turns out to only be 3", a scouting trip is guessed wrong, a route back down is not taken the way it was up, or you target the not black ducks in the middle of the river.

The corollary is what the bill is going to be. It is sometimes a "whew!" sometimes an "ouch!" sometimes a "get the paddle!" and sometimes a "I know I have my insurance card here somewhere."

The guys in 5-salt's video may have gotten away with some bottom scraping barley-induced fun that day, but enough of those scrapes and the bottom of a sled will eventually disintegrate. Not to mention shoe damage, impeller damage from sucking gravel ("Gee, it used to go 40. Why is it now toping out at 28?") and general wear and tear on equipment.

None of which means you shouldn't do it. Just get the shovel ready, because you will be pushing money into the experience...

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