Will It Go Round In Circles?

Yes, it will. It most definitely will.

It also performs a slick, possibly even patented move called “The Hockey Stop”.

It’s possible that some of the tourists standing along the shores of the Yukon River, last night, wondered if there is an action movie being filmed in town.

Richard Bradford-Andrew, of Wild Wonders, peered over his shoulder at us from his position in the Captain’s chair, a mixture of curiosity and daring in his wide smile.

“Want to try that again?” he called back.

This was some kind of jet-boat ride!

It began calmly enough as Bradford-Andrew gave a short but adequate blurb covering relevant safety regulations, the jet boat bobbing in the river nearby.

Everyone clambered aboard and, having seated themselves strategically among the thickly padded seats, donned their life jackets.

The ride is incredibly comfortable. This jet boat can travel in six inches of water; it’s almost as if you are gliding over the surface, as if the top of the water is slippery. We do a couple of corners and get used to the feeling of the movement.

It’s not long before we slow to a crawl in a small inlet where Bradford-Andrew has counted as many as 47 bald eagles – at one time! He told us it’s the juveniles that hang out here doing whatever it is juvenile eagles do when there are no adults around.

We pick up the speed a bit as we carry on, sliding into a few fishtail moves now and then.

Our next stop is across from an impressively sized beaver dam and, along the way, we also had the chance to look at swallows and their different types of nests, and talk about the layers of the clay cliffs and how the Yukon River is what now remains of what was once a huge lake.

Bradford-Andrew tells us we’ll be hitting 65 miles per hour as we hit the straight stretch heading towards the confluence of the Takhini River.

“We’ll be turning around under the bridge, here” Rebecca Bradford-Andrew, co-pilot on this run, points out. “Be sure to wave to the construction crew. They’ve had a long, hot summer working out here.”

So we waved.

And as we came out from under the bridge, it was finally time.

“Let’s do a circle!”

Not a big, wide, lazy circle. This was a fast, tight, spin-on-a-dime circle. We hung on, laughing, enjoying the wind and the water.

“That looks great with people who have long hair!”

The jet boat somehow remains level to the water, never feeling tipsy.

“Here’s the one I call The Hockey Stop!”

Starting out like the earlier circle, but coming to a sudden sideways halt, just like a hockey skater would, a wave of water sprayed up – and over. Well, we said we didn’t mind getting wet.

Realizing this was an overly enthusiastic group, there were plenty more circles, spins and laughs all the way back to town.

The Bradford-Andrew team spent considerable time working with jet boats in New Zealand, where they were invented, and their boat has been specially constructed to meet even New Zealand’s strict standards for minimizing noise and environmental impact. They definitely know their stuff.

Special departures are available for groups of six or more; the jet boat comfortably seats 12 and is great for small work or family outings. Rebecca explained that they sometimes do rides through Miles Canyon. I asked her what those trips are like.

“Short, but sweet.”

For further information about Wild Wonders, call 332-WILD, e-mail [email protected] or visit their tent on the waterfront at the end of Main Street.

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