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The cabin on a whitewater jet boat offers more than just crew comfort. As Johnson said, “It keeps the boat from sinking.” Without it, water would pour in over the bow with each wave, as we found out the hard way.
Boating photographer Rob Brown opened up the forward cabin door to get a better shot. An admirable effort, but no sooner did he get his camera to his eye than 20 gallons of icy water gushed through the companionway, soaking the shooter to the skin.
“That’s why we keep the door closed,” Johnson said with a wry grin.
A comfort item that few whitewater jet-boat enthusiasts would live without is an air-ride captain’s chair. BWC buys these from Freightliner but reupholsters them with marine-grade fabrics color-coordinated with the boat interior.
“While an air-ride seat might seem like a luxury, it’s really a necessity,” said BWC’s Campbell. “The captain needs to sit up front for the best forward view, but that’s also where the ride is the bumpiest. An air-ride seat helps the captain remain comfortable, steady and in control.”
Comfortable, steady and in control aptly describe Carl Johnson. As he piloted his jet boat back to Horseshoe Bend, I marveled at his confidence, skill and enthusiasm. For some, losing both legs might destroy their lust for adventure, especially running rapids aboard a boat. Yet for Johnson, the dance has just begun.