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Willamette Jetboat Ride

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I often wish that I could travel more and experience more of the world. Sometimes, however, I'm astounded at how much about my home city I don't even know. In this latest case, I went on a Willamette Jetboat ride.

one of the jetboats

Now, near as I can tell, these boats aren't jet-powered. Built on an all-aluminum hull and featuring three Chevrolet engines that combine for about 1000 horsepower, these light boats can tear up and down the Willamette River, through the heart of Portland, at speeds of about 50 mph! (Or would that be 50-ish knots?)

In any event, this guided tour, which I did with my DragonBoat team, showed me parts of Portland that I'd never seen before. The pilot was fantastically knowledgable about what we were seeing, from the Navy boats at Swan Island to the historic fire boat David Campbell to the history of the Morrison bridge.

Of course, the tour isn't just about listening to the wonderfully dry wit of the pilot ("you don't have to wear a life vest, but if you see me putting mine on, it might be time to grab it.") It's a bit about getting wet. I didn't get any photos during the trip because I didn't want to get my phone wet as we'd gun the engines, then hit the rudder into a hard turn, doing a cookie in the middle of the river and splashing all 50-60 passengers.

While there's a two-hour tour, we were on a one-hour rude that went north up to the railroad bridge, affording a beautiful view of the St. Johns bridge, then south to the Ross Island lagoon where bald eagles are known to nest, though we didn't see any on our trip.

If you're visiting Portland are a native like me and has never done this, I HIGHLY recommend it. I couldn't stop smiling at hoe much fun I was having!


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