B.C. Boat and Sportsmen's Show
Jet vs. Outboard
by Vic Carrao
Jet BoatThe Fraser Valley offers endless opportunities for avid boaters and anglers wanting to discover new waters. Over the years, mostly anglers in small aluminum boats and tugboats pulling logs and gravel were seen navigating the waters in the valley. More and more people are discovering the great angling and boating the valley has to offer. Boating the Fraser River above Mission is an adventure to say the least. As you look up river, you see a mass volume of water approaching you as it cuts it's way through the mountain valleys.

The river is 200 yards wide and appears to have plenty of water for boating, as you begin your journey up river you quickly discover that water depth changes quickly, gravel bars show up out of no where, the rate of current changes dramatically, back Channels that lead nowhere appear to be the main river and danger is quickly upon you. There's an old adage that says the River givith and the river takith, this is an understatement for the Fraser. I have lost many propellers to logs and hidden gravel bars, along with a few legs and damaged boats. Everyone must pay their dues to the river gods and I've paid mine in spades.

During spring freshet the Fraser is quite easy to boat. Most of the dangerous areas are deep below the surface allowing boaters mistakes without damage, but as the water begins to drop, a wrong turn means trouble. The lower river below the Sumas canal is easily navigated; above the canal is where trouble begins. The river makes many sudden turns as it winds it's way through the many gravel bars and shallows. Once you've made it past Chilliwack Mountain the river is again easily navigated until you reach the Harrison River. From there up you must know the river to safely make it without paying some dues. For first time boaters on the Fraser, I highly recommend hiring a guide. They can show you the main channel and which bars change after every runoff, not to mention all the valuable fishing info you can gain.

Many boaters are now going to bigger aluminum boats powered by propellers and jets. Inboard and outboard jets are becoming a common site. The jet-powered boats can navigate water as shallow as 6 inches and often do. When trouble is ahead, jets keep on going while others watch. There are some drawbacks to inboard or outboards but their advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. The ultimate boat is one of each. Not many of us can afford that, so I will try to compare the different applications.

Propeller driven boats are still the most common on the river today and have been around for many years. They serve a multitude of purposes, fishing, water skiing, and cruising. Outboard engines are available in a wide range of horsepower, from as low as 2hp to as high as 250hp. When considering what hp you need there are several factors to consider: size and weight of boat, application and type of water you intend to venture into.

There are three shaft lengths available; short shaft for 15 inch transom, long shaft for 20 inch and extra long shaft for 25 inch transom. Transom depth and leg length should be matched to suit specific needs. If you install a short shaft on a 20-inch transom the boat will cavitate, on the other hand a long shaft on a 15-inch transom and the boat will be sluggish. Short shafts are most common on boats less then 14 feet. Because of the low transom this boat is best suited for lake fishing and small rivers. Big swells are sure to rise over the transom and quick acceleration is not likely. The long shaft with the 20-inch transom is your standard for most freshwater and saltwater needs. If you mostly fish or venture out into saltwater, you should consider the extra long shaft for safe navigation in big swells. The longer shaft keeps the propeller in the water during rough water conditions. I would recommend talking to several boat dealers to help decide which leg length suits your needs best.
Jet BoatJet boats have been used on rivers just south of the border for many years. Here in B.C. we are just starting to see a real switch in engine choices, many boaters now prefer jet power. The difference is from the leg down; on an outboard motor the leg is removed and a jet pump is attached. The jet pump sits just below the surface. To generate thrust, the jet pump draws water through a heavy-duty impeller and forces it out at high velocity. Not much water is needed to operate your boat safely; as long as your boat is floating you can accelerate. Once up on plain, 6 inches of water is all you need.

Over the years many improvements have been made to the outboard jet motor. The loss of horsepower has been greatly improved by changing the hp rating from the power head to the jet. Pre 1980 engines the hp rating was taken at the power head. If you had a 100 hp engine the hp rating would be 70 at the jet, so a loss of 30 percent would be realized. Post 1980 if you had 100 hp at the jet you would realize 130 hp at the power head, no loss of power from the conversion. The impellor is an auger that turns inside the pump. It draws water up through the auger and shoots it out the back of the jet pump. The impellor is an important part of converting hp to thrust power. The auger is made from aluminum causing a few drawbacks. Silt, pea gravel and sand will sometimes find there way up the jet and cause wear on the auger blades The aluminum auger also allows some flexing when drawing water, which creates a small loss of thrust. You can now purchase a stainless steel auger; there is far less ware and no flexing of the auger allowing maximum thrust. I have recently changed my auger from aluminum to stainless and found a big difference in thrust power. It was immediately noticed when accelerating from a stopped position.

Outboard jets provide the angler with great advantages. Reaching shallow areas that you would normally have to walk to is quite easy. Beaching the boat and leaving the rivers edge becomes much easier. You no longer have to wade out before hopping in and lowering your motor. You can just board the boat, start up and power away even in 12 inches of water. Many rivers up and down the coast provide great angling opportunities. With a jet, the angler's knowledge of the river is not as critical for navigation if a deadhead or gravel shallow appears you can escape without damaging your boat and motor. All these advantages do come with a price. Outboard jets don't fair well in rough seas. The bottom of the jets is level or just below the bottom of the boat so a swell would lift the jet out of the water leaving the boater with no acceleration. The fuel economy is less than a propeller driven boat and the engine is slightly louder.

Like fishing lures, everyone has a favorite. There are many choices when considering boats and engine styles. Jets are one you should consider if you plan on boating fresh water rivers. Sea-Pro Marine in Surrey is one dealer I highly recommend if you plan on purchasing a new or used boat or motor. Joe & Allan are top notch when it comes to jet or propeller driven motors.

Whichever you choose, there are many rivers yet to be discovered by the adventurous boater and quality fisheries waiting for you to wet a line. Good luck in the upcoming season and may your boating experience be pleasant and safe. Any comments or questions can be emailed to sts@guidebc.com
Tight Lines and see you on the water

Vic Carrao
STS Guiding Service
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