Bobby never ceases to amaze me. I mean, I already know the guy tears it up on a bike, so I guess it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that his great bike handling skills transferred to jet boating, right?! Yesterday I got to find out first hand that Bobby, after a bit of coaching, also knows how to rip up the river behind the wheel of a jet boat.
Those of you not familiar with jet boating, they were first designed by Sir William Hamilton for the fast flowing, shallow rivers of New Zealand. The boat’s engine draws the water from under the boat, into a pump, which then blasts it through a nozzle at the stern. Jet boats are highly maneuverable and can operate in water as shallow as 2 inches. Yup, you read that right, at times there can be only a measly 2 inches of water between the bottom of the boat and the rocky bottom of the river.
Our host, Mark Dickson of KRD Distributors, had been telling us all week about taking us up the Waimakariri River on his jet boat. Now, to be totally honest at the expense of sounding like a snob, I had visions of some shiny, cigarette type river speedster, so I was a bit surprised when Mark unveiled his pride and joy and it looked more like your standard 10′ fishing boat with a rather large engine in the rear. Turns out that rather large engine housed 250 hp, which meant that the “standard” looking fishing boat actually pinned it on the water.
Speaking of pinning it, after a few instructions on the handling qualities of the boat, the workings of the jet propulsion system, some stall outs and some mis-turns, Bobby and Mark got their jet boating choreography right, which meant that Bobby was driving the jet boat on instructions very similar to the ones we use when guiding him on the bike. If you don’t believe me, check out this video clip of him driving the jet boat at close to 30 mph.
As has been tradition at the conclusion of most of our rides here on the South Island of New Zealand, Mark busted out the BBQ mid-boat session and we feasted on gourmet burgers while lounging on the sandy, warm banks of one of the largest rivers in the North Cantebury district. In between bites, Bobby and I reminded each other how lucky we were to be here, doing what we were, and that when it comes to doing things that people think are impossible, especially for someone who is sight impaired like Bobby, it’s great to show that determination, focus, skill, and a bit of stubbornness, can make almost anything possible.