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Thread: Jet Boat Questions

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Jet Boat Questions

    I'm contemplating buying a boat, and after never imagining buying a non-fishing boat, that's exactly what I'm looking for. What I'd like is something for bringing a group of people out and just tooling around the lake, maybe pulling a tuber occasionally. A Pontoon would be my craft of choice if I had somewhere on a lake to keep one, but I don't know how well they transport. I've been looking at deck boats, which is something I'd like, but they are kind of expensive.

    In my searches, I came across some Jet boats that seem like they would fill my needs, and some of them are very affordable used. I have no experience with jet boats, and didn't realize there were as many out there as there are until I began my search. The Seadoo Challanger is one that comes up frequently that I like. So I'm just looking for first-hand experience with jet boats in general.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    I've ridden in, and driven probably every kind there is. Not my first choice for pulling anything with, and would only be my first choice if I lived up in a very shallow stream to get out of. The most fun ones to me are a V hull with a powerful V8, but even then, not my first choice for something to tool around in, or pull kids behind.

    Pontoons are not that bad to get in, and out of the water, but a pretty large frontal area to tow on long trips often. Deck boats are okay, but are pretty much pigs in the water, even if well powered. A deck boat will plane, with enough power, so top end will be more than a pontoon boat, but take a Lot of fuel to push that much water out of the way.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 07-29-2019 at 3:00 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lewiston, Idaho
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    The town I live in has several jet boat manufacturers that build jet boats used around the world. Even some manufactured locally were sold and used in Nepal. They are best known for shallow draft and used in shallow fast rivers. Most made locally are welded heavy aluminum. My wife and I rode in one in Queenstown, NZ on the Shotover River. That jet boat was fiberglass. Most often they are powered by car engines, V-8, diesel and the ones on the boat in NZ was powered by turbo-charged V-6's IIRC. They are expensive to operate. I also suspect they aren't the most efficient but with no propeller to break, they work well in shallow rivers.
    Ken

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    SE Michigan
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    I’ve never owned one (other than a PWC), but have taken rides in a few. As already said, they are ideal in shallow water. The lake we’re on, averages 8’ with many sand bars at 2’5” depth, and jet boats are popular. You have to be a little cautious in weedy areas, as the jet can suck these up and clog it. It can also suck up a ski rope pretty well, if not careful. Most will have an access panel to the jet drive to clear weeds and such, but it’s a pain. To be fair, a ski rope can get pretty tangled up in a prop as well, so I wouldn’t make that a deciding factor.

    I wouldn’t rule out a pontoon boat. They are trailerable and I’ve seen many being launched and pulled out at our local public ramp. No more trouble than any other boat. For what you describe as your use, it would be my first choice. Look at one of the shorter lengths...might be a good used market with some upgrading to longer models.

  5. #5
    There's jet boats-
    j1.jpg

    and jet boats-
    j2.jpg

    and jet boats-
    j3.jpg (-this is my friend Gary )

    and jet boats-
    j5.jpg

    and jet boats-
    j7.jpg

    -and you might like this 21' Yamaha, your jet can be a fun AND fishing boat
    j6.jpgj8.jpg

    or they have a 19'er--
    j9.jpg

    (personally, I'd go with the 21 )

    We own 4 boats, have owned many before them-- I'm not really sure of your wants and/or needs, but there's options for combining fishing and 'tooling around'. As to jet-specific boats- as noted above, any propulsion system is a compromise, nuff said. Years ago I owned a '77 Kona 21' jet, similar to the first pic but with the 460 Ford under cover. I accidentally backed it into a dirt wall once, had to unplug the nozzle, and I sucked a rope up once, but that wasn't that big a deal, jets have access to the impeller just for that reason. And being able to boat in bathtub deep water is nice. I've known a few people who've owned 24'-ish Yamaha's, they loved them. I loved my Kona too.

    Good luck on your search, I highly recommend any jet boat, but (a) do a test drive, and (b) make sure it HAS, or can accommodate, a bimini. No shade on a boat gets old, fast.
    Last edited by Kev Williams; 07-29-2019 at 9:16 PM.
    ========================================
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  6. #6
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    Sep 2012
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    Bloomington, MN
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    Thanks for all the advice and opinions!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    A pump is not as efficient as a prop. For example, I know of two identical hulls, similarly powered, with one a jet, and the other an in/out, with both being well powered with big blocks. The jet had a top end of 60 mph, and the prop 75.

    A lot of people think that the jet is safer. Here, more people get killed on, or by jet skiis than anything else. One sad case was a girl with long hair had it sucked into the intake when a friend was idling up to her in the water. Living on a large lake, I see all sorts of boats sitting on the side of the road for sale, and the newest ones are always those smaller jet boats.

    Personally, I'm not a big fan.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    i saw a jet conversion on a outboard once. The lower gearbox was unbolted and pump bolted on instead. Simple impeller with vertical shaft, nozzle out the back, intake on the bottom. I do not remember if the nozzle moved independently of the mot0r or the whole motor had to be swung around to angle the thrust.
    Or doc you mean a turbine jet engine. I think they just use air thrust so the water can be weedy and sandy and have no effect.
    Bill D.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlmZQEtXbvQ

  9. #9
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    Feb 2014
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    It's a water pump in these boats we're talking about.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Deep South
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    I considered a jet boat before buying my latest runabout. What I saw in comparing the two types is that the performance and fuel economy of jet boats is decidedly inferior to the same type boat powered by a prop. There are still some good reasons to buy one but I decided against it

  11. #11
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    Highland MI
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    The SeaDoo challenger is powered by a supercharged 1.5 liter Rotax engine (or two on the larger models). To get the performance you desire, you will find them quite noisy running at a much higher rpm than an outboard or inboard at the same speed. That being said, my only experience with that style of jet boat was 15 years ago on an afternoon trip on Lake Huron. Quite different from my previous inboard ski boat powered by a 350 mercruiser Chevy engine. Hard to beat the throttle response and steering of an inboard ski boat. But now I am a pontoon boat owner, 21 foot Bennington with a 115 hp Yamaha. Can't be beat for what you want to do. By myself it will do 30 mph and will tow a tuber all day at 20 mph. But they are susceptible to wind while launching and don't turn on a dime. I know folks that tow and launch their pontoon just like it were their bass boat. If you do that, get a trailer where it sits on the bunks and has a much wider wheelbase than the ones you often see where the wheels are between the pontoons.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 07-31-2019 at 8:12 AM.
    NOW you tell me...

  12. #12
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    Jets are inefficient and the only real advantage is shallow water capability. Get an outboard- easier to use and maintain, and when the time comes, easier to replace. I’m a huge fan of inboard diesels for ocean, but for lakes just get an outboard.

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