Testing Hells Canyon Marine Jet Boats
World class jet boating, world class service.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, checked into our hotel room and headed over the HCM for a tour of the shop. We were met by Laura, Ryan and shop manager Jeremy. We spent about 1 1/2 hours looking at boats in production and some finished 22 footer’s. They had 3 boats on the go, one was just getting rigged, the others still had away to go. Ryan, Laura & Jeremy showed us how HCM were built from top to bottom. Many impressive options and every boat is custom fit to the customer. The most impressive part was their ability to willingness to make any changes. As we all know, every region, river and fishery has it’s own unique characteristics. After our tour we discussed the plan for Friday’s test driving then headed out for dinner. Our good friends from Lewiston and Clarkston, “Idaho Boys” joined us as did Ryan, Laura and Jeremy.
Friday morning we headed over to HCM to test drive 4 boats, all of them were 22 ft except for 1 that was a 24 footer. All the boats handled a bit differently, the 7 ft bottom pulled out of the water faster than the 61/2 but the turning and handling of the 6 1/2 was a bit tighter. Each boat had it’s own feel but they were all great boats. After 4 hours of running boats I was ready to hit the canyon. We meet board member calling the shots at the local water hole for a beer or two, or was that 3? then headed up to Georges for a Elk steak dinner. Georges house in one of those beautiful homes up on that old hwy looking down on Clarkston/Lewiston, what a view.
|Test Driving a 24 ft HCM.|
|View from Georges House.|
The Idaho Boys arranged a cabin at Garden Creek for Saturday night up on the Snake river and Ryan offered to pick us up Sunday morning and take us to the Dam. This was going to be exciting. I have heard all the stories and watched all the video’s on this site of rapids like Granite and Wild Sheep but I have only been as far as Rush Creek. From what I understand, few people have the skill or maybe I should say crazy enough to run Wild Sheep Rapids, so we were all pretty pumped.
|Arriving at Garden Creek – you might recongnize the guy on the right, Geoff Banford owner of the Rock101 jet boat.|
|Our cabin at Garden Creek.|
We drove up the canyon Saturday morning to Heller Bar, launched Randy’s Custom 22ft RMS and Dan’s 22 ft Customweld. We took 2 boats 7 guys and ran up to Garden Creek to check into our cabin. We got our gear unloaded then headed up the canyon for a little target shooting and some fishing. We ran up the salmon, played in the “Eye of the Needle” then boated up past Imnaha Rapids on the Snake. We had a great day on the water with our good friends, spotted 3 herds of wild sheep, some turkey’s and a few beer, oh I mean deer. Randy filled his boat at Imnaha but I think he was just trying to clean off the Sand?
|Randy’s custom RMS Jet boat on the Snake River.|
|Look closely, you will see 2 large wild sheep.|
Ryan Rogers of HCM picked us up at Garden Creek at first light, the run to the Dam is 74 miles each way so we need every bit of light. We loaded up the gear and headed out. Ryan ran us through Garden Creek Rapids and within a few minutes offered me the Stick. I was really hoping I could drive but was a little concerned about the stick. I own a stick steering boat but my stick is on the left, Ryan’s stick is on the right. Many of the smaller rapids were quite easy to read, Ryan would guide me past the rocks quietly calling out commands like “right, then left, watch the rock”. It was quite humorous, every time Ryan said left, I pulled the throttle back. In some of the bigger rapids Ryan would call out a command but I was so focused I wouldn’t hear him, next thing I know Ryan is grabbing the stick to avoid a hidden boulder. I think Ryan was getting a bit nervous as we got further up the canyon. Finally at Pittsburg Landing Ryan took over the stick and proceeded to show us how to run really run rapids.
|Granite Rapids on teh Snake River.|
|Granite up close, just before running it.|
Although the water was not high, I believe it was running between 8 – 9000cfs, rapids such as Granite & Wild Sheep were intimidating. Ryan is definitely a skilled driver, he would run up then back down, up again and make it look very easy. He made it look so easy, I started to think I could even do it. I suggested it a few times but the crew on board wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, Ryan would just grin, maybe next time when I have the stick on the left.
After making it to the Dam, Ryan drove us back down, we took turns at the stick once we got through some of the bigger rapids. I ran pretty much all except the biggest but what a difference. Ryan’s lines were so smooth he made 6 foot rollers feel like 1 ft ripples. I definitely have some practicing to do when I get my new HCM.
Once we got back down to Garden Creek, Ryan suggested we stop by their cabin. There we met Ryan’s family, had a few laughs then proceeded to our take out point, Hellar Bar.
|Derek, Geoff and Mike at Hells Canyon Dam.|
During the entire day, I was making changes to my HCM, I want this, don’t want that, how about this, how about that, every boat that went by made me think about mine. Ryan just kept nodding and saying yes Vic, yes Vic. By the end of the day, we nicked named HCM, THE HO– USE OF YES, lol. I guess that’s the advantage of being a small builder with a great product and knowledgeable staff. Anything goes. At the end of the day I made my final changes and settled with a Hells Canyon Marine 22 ft HD with a 6 liter, Hamilton 212, hard top, stick on the left, mid deck. Lots of custom interior changes to suit our rivers and application.
|Ryan Rogers owner of HCM and Vic of STS after a full day of testing Hells Canyon Marine Jet boats.|
Overall we had an excellent trip, I can’t say enough about Ryan, Laura and all their staff down at Hells Canyon Marine. They welcomed us with open arms, treated us like family. The entire experience of buying a HCM was one I won’t forget anytime soon. If the boat is half as good as their service, I have made a good choice. Not only do I have a new jet boat, I have some new friends. Can’t wait to go back.
Tight lines and hope to see on the water
STS Guiding Service
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