Contributors to this thread:
What qualifies as boat experience?
I am looking at a remote solo trip in AK going around 30 miles up a shallow river. I would have 16' boat with 40 hp jet.
I have been whitewater rafting many times, fishing in a boat a lot, water skied a few times, canoeing etc.
I have a lot of common sense and over the past 10 years I have been "paying attention" to hydraulics, water movement etc.
I have never operated a jetboat. I have mechanical sense and I am an engineer so I am good at figuring things out.
I am a strong swimmer, in great shape and will have a plb and sat phone just in case.
My concern is do I have enough experience to take this type of boat up a shallow river?
Is the name of that waterway "sh*t creek" and do you have a paddle ?
To be determined later.
Hope you have a great trip! I apologize for adding nothing beneficial to your thread. My wife may be right about me.
Don, you were doing real good until you mentioned you were an engineer. Hope your one of those good engineers. Just kidding. I would say go for it. Be safe and don't take an unnecessary chance.
All engineers need to learn that things are not solved on a piece of paper. When one hands me a drawing I say yep... looks good, theoretically. Now for reality.
If you are heading upstream life is a little better than if you were going down. Going down you are at the mercy of the current when it comes to sweepers.
A jet handles differently than a prop but you'll get the hang of that pretty quick. Make sure you have a screwdriver and are wearing your hips. That way when you suck a bunch of gravel into the intake you can quickly hop out and dig it out and be on your way.... 20 times a day.
Don't see a problem, just take it slow. Watch out for clogging up the motor with rocks or?make sure you have your tools and have fun.
Have you done any hunting up here or is this the first time?
Jets are pretty nice, if you take care of them.
You should be fine ... I run a jet pump year round here in Oregon, duck hunting, salmon fishing you name it.
I wouldn't worry about it in Alaska... just another river...you will be amazed where you can get with a pump.
With out specific knowledge of the river it is hard to say. One of the above post said to "take it slow " not really an option with a jet the boat needs to be on plane to take advantage of its shallow water capability. Another important fact is while most will run in 6 inches or less you cannot stop there have to plan where to stop so you have enough room to get on plane again. The advice about being ready to clean the lower intake is right on. I would also inquire if the impeller is aluminum or stainless. If aluminum make sure they show you how to re shim if need arises. Other than that just make sure to make turns with power still applied as there is no lower unit to act as a rudder. They also will use almost twice the fuel as a similar sized outboard.
The jets work really well. The only issue can be if you suck stuff into them... particularly gravel. The shear pin/key can be not so fun to change in a cold river, and is a little bit more work than doing it on a prop.
YES you need to be going fast to fully take advantage of the boat and running in shallow water... but speed can also take you farther on to a sandbar than you want ;-).
I've never ran a jet boat, but judging from the posts above, it ain't looking good right now !
And I know damn well my wife is right about me ! :)
You would likely be better off to take along (and pay all the expenses for) someone with lots of experience at boating on northern rivers, such as me for instance.
You are making a dangerous assumption when you say "shallow river". We often get days of rain and then the river will may be anything but shallow. You may find it almost impossible to go ashore for long stretches.
Or worse yet, you will go up after a period of higher water, camp for a few days while things dry out, and then find you can't get down river. Moving even a small jet that hits a gravel bar from the upstream side can be difficult, if not impossible.
Don, call me. I have been running jet drives for 20 years.thank
I would want someone along with me. By yourself I believe to many things can go wrong on a river you have never navigated. At least with two people you have the ability to have someone in the front of the boat to see what is coming and two guys can usually move a 16 footer around a bit. I myself would not go it alone! Shawn
running an outboard jet and a outboard prop are 2 different things, if you're running at speed the jet will get you thru some pretty shallow water but you have to be going fairly fast, and in unfamiliar water that can get spooky, If you're dealing with sand and mud its generally not a problem but I'm assuming in Alaska you're dealing with rock, rocks aren't good for props or jets, I'd say its a toss up on how it will work out for you,
Another thing since your going to be in BFE, take an extra shoe for your pump... Don't ask me how i know about this;)
Running those jets in thin water takes some confidence/guts....as slowing down only makes it worse.
In asking the question....it seems to me you lack the experience...why not rent one and practice beforehand?
Don, what hull type are you running. Tunnel would be best if the river is shallow, no rapids etc. It will let you run shallower.
I can run 4 inches of water in an 18 ft G3 with a Yamaha 90/65 jet. Actually better than the 25/20 jet on our old flat bottom John.if I hit with the big boat the hull skips, not the motor as it is actually higher than the hull on plane. True you can't get off plane in the shallows.
If the river has enough water when it is low you should be fine unless it can turn into a dangerous river at higher levels. Then there are sweepers to consider.
I grew up on boats, have personally owned 3 of them, worked and fished on all shapes and sizes. I've 20+ yrs of experience handling challenging offshore marine conditions and can turn a wrench probably better than most. I consider myself one with lots of boating experience, yet I wouldn't even consider an AK River hunt without someone experienced on that particular river aboard, or better yet, at the helm. Call me a wuss, but IMO, AK is no place to learn how to navigate a river alone. The stakes are too high. The conditions change too fast. The weather and conditions too extreme. But that's just me, I have a wife and two little kids at home that I love and that need me. This might be one of those questions where, if you have to ask... Well, you already know the answer. Trust your gut.
Going up a river is generally fairly safe and easy.
It's going down and hopefully heavily laden that can present a problem. Heavily loaded boats tend to wallow when cornered hard and don't react with that same nimble upstream manner. And you need speed to maintain steerage.
But coming back, you also have a history with the river. Take careful note of features, braiding, sweepers and tight spots, on your way up. Even mark them on your GPS and refer to it.
Some rivers are "rivers!!" while others are just long, moving ponds.
But most important to remember is "..the VERY BEST adventures start with little or no planning.."!
Some people are meant and are mentally equipped for the unknown. Others not. Only you know which one applies to yourself.
Keep your sat phone in something waterproof that floats. would hate to have a problem and no communication.
It sounds like you have half of the problems solved. You just need a hunting partner.
I'm a USCG licensed captain, have run jet outboards in several states, have whitewater rafted, am also an engineer, and have a bow and quiver full of arrows.
One fair question for you to ask: "How many guys jet up this river each fall?" You already know that Alaskans are the best at searching out every moose opportunity available, and that includes every conceivable waterway leading to moose heaven. If your river is runnable, someone has done it before you. If not, then it's worth assuming it's either too dangerous or logistically impossible. If it gets jetted each year then you might be okay. I say 'might' because I happen to be a guy who doesn't think Alaska is the place to find out if you can run a jet boat, fly a bush plane or other things...especially solo the first time. I happen to be a bit more cautious than some. I think the two unknowns here are the river itself and your abilities with that boat. Know those two things and you'll be better prepared.
Have a great hunt, whatever you decide.
I browsed the responses and didn't see anyone mention this. The difference between a jet and motor with a prop is they don't have a skeg. The skeg acts as a rudder, so you can still steer while you are coasting or drifting. A jet motor requires water flow to propel it, so if you let off on the gas you can't steer, you actually have to give it some gas to turn in the direction you want to go.
Jet boat means a lot of others to compete with the same area. I would suggest a remote float hunt. I did one last year with my buddy, not knowing a thing about it....but was successful with a 66' bull. We missed a 70"+ Bull and messed up on another....Pilot reported seeing 23 others a short ways from where we were, although we didn't see them.....so IF your in the right spot you can and will have a heck of a hunt. We had an awesome hunt, saw no bears, but there were around. Saw a ton of Beavers and Eagles. I was physically the second hardest hunt I ever experienced (My Goat hunt 3 weeks later almost killed me). But extremely rewarding, we were physically and mentally spent after moving our gear and Moose from the river to the take-out lake, some 1500#+ 1/2mile each way...in 8 hours...as there was a monster freak snow blizzard to hit the area the following day, which it did. And yes, Moose meat is the best wild game meat I've ever had, beating Elk, Caribou, Sitka Deer, Kansas Deer, and Antelope. I brought home 400# of Moose meat and filled my new freezer to the max.
I've run a 1754 boat with a jet quite a little bit. I wouldn't hesitate to do it in Alaska if the river was jetted by folks in similar types of boats as to what I planned to use.
I would suggest getting comfortable with a jet before you try it in Alaska the first time. They do definitely steer differently than a prop boat
I'd recommend considering a helmet. I've hit multiple gravel bars in a jet back in the day before I even wore a life jacket in the boat (Age has wisened me), but the boat I was in didn't go fast enough to throw me out. (Top speed about 28-29 mph).
If I ran that jet today, I'd wear a vest and a helmet.
I've had a jet boat since 1987. I've guided and run rivers in Alaska two years and had a six pack license to do so. So I have a bit of experience to fall back on.
With a 16 footer with only a 40 horse jet I feel that with much gear that you are "undergunned". Especially if the river you are going up is braided out. And that is if there is only you in addition to your gear. Then if you get lucky and put a moose in the boat
There is also the problem in shallow rivers in AK of the water not being in the same place day to day. You can go up the river today and when you come back down tomorrow a root ball has blocked the channel and you have to hunt for the water. It's can be a problem for an inexperienced boat driver - or for a person with a LOT of time behind the stick.
Are you going alone? Kinda hard to lump a boat off a shallow bar by yourself.
Just FWIW, I think you're biting off a big chunk and wonder if you really want to do it?????
Such a basic question that I'm kind of surprised that nobody has asked, but..... Whose boat is it?
I'm kind of assuming that you'd be renting it. In which case I would expect that your outfitter would have a great deal of experience in sizing up potential customers before he sends them off up a river from which they might not return in one piece. Not that that's really his problem, but he does have a fleet of boats to maintain. Parts aren't cheap, they're probably hard to get via FedEx priority overnight, and he probably expects to be able to rent these boats week after week and not just once a season.
So not that I'd encourage you to underestimate the potential hazard, but it seems that it must be within reason or there would be nobody there to run the service. Good pair of polarized glasses, some advance scouting, and an ability to read water as you would when fly-fishing, and you're either off to a good start or the outfitters prices must reflect his overhead in repairs and liability insurance!
Thanks guys lots of good info and I have talked with guys who have done it, no many but some. It is a cost prohibited trip 100 miles of river out of Galena, $7/gallon for gas. That said me being solo is a big advantage IMO. Much less weight - one person and I take minimal gear. I can get by for 10 days with 75# of gear total, including food/pack/gun.
I have hunted AK solo before and done even more difficult trips then that solo several times. I have no problem finding unique ways to solve problems and I excel at thinking out side of the box and problem solving. In fact I enjoy it.
Although if I score coming out with moose - meat must stay on bone, is a different story. Then again I will have used up a lot of gas so that cancels some out.
Rick I will give you a call!
Having done a fair amount of boating in Alaska, I typically advise people against running boats on waters they are unfamiliar with. A quick read through any Alaska paper in the month of September will show you that rivers in Alaska aren't particularly forgiving to hunters. That said, the Yukon isn't particularly difficult to navigate due to its large size and depth. I assume you will be hopping off onto a tributary (which i wouldn't disclose on here), which may or may not be more difficult.
Wear a life jacket at all times. Have minimum survival gear (matches, space blanket) and sat phone in waterproof container on your person at all times while in the boat. Seemingly benign situations can turn deadly very quickly when you become separated from your boat or fall out and can't get back in your boat.
Boating 100 miles by yourself also isn't very easy, fatigue will come into play added with inclement weather can make situations much more difficult than they appear on paper.
I think my biggest concern on this hunt would be potential conflicts with local hunters being protective of their territory. I know this is a major issue on certain parts of the Yukon, but I do not know specifics of which areas. That is something I would inquire about.
PM if you would like more specific advice.
I thought hunting was supposed to be fun...sounds like this could turn into a rodeo. Could you get dropped off upsteam? I always try to keep it simple. Mike
I wish I had the pictures on this computer....we did a jet boat trip up the Stikine and tore a pretty good hole in the hull. No worry, we dragged it up on shore, used rocks to bang the hull back to shape, epoxy puttied the hole and built a fire at the water line to heat the hull enough so the patch would set.
Hunted the rest of the trip, no problem [as long as you don't consider a little bailing every couple hours a problem- grin]
Piece of cake with 2 guys.......
Hey Beendare. Here's us on the Stikine in a 32 foot freighter and 60 HP motor with a jet. A little slow getting past Beggarly Canyon.
Do you plan to stay in a Holiday Inn the night before you launch on this adventure?
Not trying to dissuade you in anyway because to me adventure is everything but.... Between the last two springs I'd guess I spent 150+ hours riding shotgun in a jet boat with a very experienced (two actually) river boatman here in Alaska. In that time I figured I'd learn a thing or two and I surely did. That said, there ain't a snowmans chance in hell I'd go solo on a jet boat (or any boat) 100 miles etc.
But if you do, you likely won't die and it could be fun, might even get a moose :)