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If you want to learn more about whitewater jet-boating, check out the Western Whitewater Association (westernwhitewater.org). This Idaho-based organization is dedicated to promoting safe whitewater jet-boating and access to rivers. It also holds monthly meetings, banquets and river rallies.
Anatomy of a Whitewater Jet Boat
For running the big waters of rivers such as the Payette or Snake, you need a whitewater jet boat in the 20- to 26-foot range. Here’s what to look for.
1. Sturdy cabin to protect the crew and to keep the boat from swamping.
2. Shatterproof windshield to keep the windows from bursting, with wipers to clear the spray.
3. Torquey V-8 inboard such as the 550 hp Marine Power 6.2-liter LSA for the power to climb raging rapids.
4. Jet-pump drive to deliver thrust and steering, without taking out the running gear on rocks.
5. Heavy-duty grate to keep from sucking rocks into the jet pump, with a “stomp grate” to clear debris.
6. Thick aluminum plating below the waterline to fend off boulders and timber.
7. Stick steering for a positive feel and quicker response when navigating the rapids.
8. Relatively flat running surface to skim across shoals.
9. Forward companionway and bow ladder to facilitate boarding when beached.
10. High rails in the stern for safety on the water-shedding flush aft deck.
11. Air-ride seats at the cab-forward helm to cushion the jarring ride when running the rapids.
12. Grab handles for the crew everywhere possible on the boat.