Our US correspondent in the United States Elliott Maurice takes a look at the most popular jet boats available with a variety of designs.
Who would not want a jet boat? It’s a vessel powered by jets, isn’t it? But not really except if you’re talking about military vessels or unusual superyachts that are high performance yachts that are powered through gas turbines.
Jet-powered pleasure boats are more modest, yet thrilling, option powered by a piston engine connected by a water jet, rather than propeller.
It uses an impeller (a fan-shaped propeller in the tunnel) to draw water by openings in the bottom of the vessel, and discharge it out via the narrow nozzle, which is steerable on the transom, which pushes the boat forward.
Without a propeller and rudder that hangs down below the boat, it’s not just safe to use in shallow water, but also is also less drag, which means more speed and better fuel efficiency.
The disadvantage is that it can be more difficult to maneuver at a low speed, particularly when it is going to the side (there are no gears for reverse, only the bucket that falls lower to direct the thrust beneath the watercraft) and it is best at higher speeds, when the boat’s movement through the water assists in driving water towards the impeller.
The jet boat was first introduced within New Zealand back in 1954 when it was developed to speed up on small rivers where propeller-driven vessels were susceptible to bend their propellers when they hit rocks.
High performance jet boats operate these courses to this day and are renowned for their speed, flat bottomed hulls, and the ability to execute an emergency stop when dropping the reverse bucket at full speed there is nothing else that could pull off the same actions these boats can pull off.
Without an outdrive or rudder to hold a steady hold in the sea, these jet boat are able to turn 180 degrees along their own length in high-speed travel. They can also drift to the side during a turn at high speed similar to the sport car with a powerful rear wheel drive.
In addition to the explosive acceleration because of the absence the propeller’s tip cavitation is an exhilarating rides, however only when you are aware of the ropes. If you’re considering purchasing the one you want, here are a few factors to be considered to ensure that you select the best one for your needs.
Cons and Pros of acquiring the jet boat
The most common use of jet boats is to be an entertaining runabout to enjoy water sports and cold-water swimming and cold water swimming. The absence of an open propeller is an important safety element especially when getting on or off the platform for bathing.
Furthermore, the extremely low draft permits jet boats to be easily anchored. Since there aren’t propellers on the outside to catch as you back off, there’s less chance of getting stuck, or breaking the object. However, it is necessary be on the lookout for debris or weeds getting in the intake, and damaging or blocking the impeller.
The flat-bottomed shape of the majority of jet-boat hulls and especially those that are shorter than 21 feet makes for an extremely solid ride in any type of chop. However, the bow rider design and a low freeboard can make certain jet boats susceptible to submerge in huge waves, burying the bow and absorbing water.
The lack of mechanical grip from a propeller and the keel effect of an outboard or sterndrive makes them reluctant to track in a straight line and they can quickly become a handful in anything other than a light chop.
Jet boats also typically have small capacity high-revving engines. For instance, a 300hp Supercharged Rotax only has only a 1.5 litre capacity, but it revs up to more than 11,000rpm. While reliable, if maintained properly (they were originally designed to be used for small airplanes) they can be more noisy and thirsty than larger capacity naturally aspirated engines.
The other aspect that needs to be considered with jet boats is the unique way they manage at slower speeds. A jet boat is not designed to travel on a straight path when at a low speed, and needs constant adjustments to maintain it where you’d like it to go.
Its Hinckley Picnic Boat 40S is the most glamorous jet boat (with prices to be matched!)
A lot of them lack a neutral gear, meaning that the impeller spins in idle. Manufacturers attempt to combat this by lowering the reverse bucket to help balance reverse and forward thrust, but this isn’t the same as having a neutral gear.
This could be difficult at first when trying to dock jet boats, particularly in the direction of astern where the steering operates in the opposite approach to a propeller-driven boat. It’s easy to master through practice. Just do not expect a jet vessel to operate just like a propeller-driven craft.
What is their cost and how quickly can they be? A good jet boat could be purchased brand new for only $25,000 with an trailer. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a 40ft Hinckley Picnic Boat, will cost you the highest amount of $1.7million.
The majority of jet boat models will operate at speeds of 50-55mph, but there are a few off-the-shelf boats that easily surpass 70mph. In addition, the fastest jet boat ever is the fastest around the globe the Dave Warby’s Spirit of Australia II was clocked at 317mph in 1978.