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       This website features ski boats and fun in the sun on the Colorado River ! A new Colorado River Rat Ski Boat Project is underway "Danger Zone" a former NJBA Quarter mile drag boat ski jet class record holder - Don Hettish 1987                  

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Colorado River Rats .....The Story

by Danielle Kirk

 

The yearly migration of the Colorado River Rats took place on June 7 – 9 on the Colorado River near Laughlin, Nevada. Fourteen groups of friends and their ski boats gathered for the annual river cruise and barbeque. During the pre summer months new boats were built, boat engines rebuilt all for the annual fun in the sun near Laughlin, Nevada. The MotorMouth Boat was finished the weekend prior to the migration. These friends have been coming to Laughlin for years, about the same time in June. We will announce the next planned water event in January of 2002. It was fun, everyone had a great time and are looking towards next year.

 On Saturday, June 8 canopies, ice chests, gents and ladies gathered on the beach in the marina to begin the day of water fun. All ski boats were launched and moored in the marina. Sun canopies were erected near the water behind each boat. The pictures of the marina shows the boats moored and ready for water fun action.

The water fun began about 8:00 a.m. water temperature was bath water warm, air temperature was in the low 80 degrees, which rose to 112 about 1 p.m.  All boats were fired up and headed up river five miles to Lazy Harrys Tavern and Café.

Lets take a ride in a 19 ½ ski boat (red boat – “MotorBreath”) together. This is my first ever ride in a ski boat.  I waded out waist deep in water to find the front boat anchor and pull it up on shore. I then untied the back boat anchor (a rock on the beach) and climbed in the front seat next to Clint who would be driving this boat. Clint checked both 10 gallon fuel tanks and added some 105 octane fuel booster to the 92 octane unleaded gas. When all were aboard, Clint pressed the start button and the 500 horsepower 468 cubic inch Chevy bowtie big block engine fired up. The deep throat rumble (rump rump rump rump) of a big block  Isky Cam (bump stick) pumped springing to life is really a great sound. Clint checked the engine oil pressure and temperature gauges. He then adjusted the amount of water going into the custom exhaust headers (this keeps the noise level down by injecting water into the individual exhaust tubes). Clint engaged the jet pump and we were off on the cruise. The harbor has a 5mph rule to keep everyone safe. We had jet skiers on our left and behind us going out at the same time. When we cleared the harbor bowies we turned right and accelerated up to about 20 mph heading toward and under the bridge. Clint checked all boat gauges, looked for a safe and empty line through the water---then the tachometer read 4500rpm and 70-80mph came quickly—wow what a ride! It just kept getting better, we slowed for a tight left turn to go back up the river, Clint looked right, then left cranked the steering wheel left and punched the gas pedal and the two big Holley carburetors on the engine opened the big butterflies and seemed to say “all rightie”--woombb . What a turn like being on a tight turn in a roller coaster! We straightened out and pulled another 4500 rpm down the back straight away. The MSD ignition system provided miss free 4500rpm cruising. We slowed down after we passed under the bridge and approaching the marina harbor. We throttled down to about 15 mph and joined many jet skier and boaters just cruising the river for fun.  There is nothing quite like a warm summer day with warm air and cool water spray from the river sprinkling your face to keep you cool. 400 to 600 horsepower engines sure sound good echoing off the riverbanks as you cruise the river.  We moored the boat on the beach at the Lazy Harrys café and went inside for some much needed refreshments. A special note … out back behind the Tavern are concert slabs with the Colorado Drag Boat Race Drivers Names engraved in them from past years when Quarter Mile Drag Boat Racing was held on the Colorado River. If you get to Laughlin take some time to visit the Tavern and reminisce about Colorado River Quarter Mile Drag Boat Racing.

 You can moor your boat on the beach and go inside for a cold drink. Then you can take your boat down the river on the same course as 200mph top fuel hydros used to use in past years. Maybe you can image the smell of the nitro methane or alcohol or possible gas in the air and roar of the engines and cheering of the crowd on the banks of the Colorado River as a pair of unruly hydros made a quarter mile pass.  

After Harrys we cruised back down the river to the marina and fired up the barbeques and gas powered drink blender. The beach security asked us not to use the gas-powered blender, so we fired up the 12 volt powered model. You just can't beat boaters and engine builders for ingenuity and engineering. The eats, drinks and fun lasted until about 9 in the evening, then all boats were trailored and the casino fun began.

The casino featured a group honoring the bearded group, ZZ Top.  The group did a good job and lead guitar player was especially talented. The casino was super, the marina was …. Well, just beautiful, clean and added a whole bunch to the enjoyment of everyone.

Sunday, June 9, was a repeat of Saturday, with everyone having just a great time.  More one and two boat cruises, but an ending of the day all boat cruise to Lazy Harrys for an evening cool one or two. Then it was back to the marina to trailer the boats and head back home until next year. The specifications for each boat will be listed for your review shortly. You are all invited to bring your boats and join the fun in the sun with the Colorado River Rats next year (weekend to be announced January, 2002).  

Thank you for reading our story. -dk

Copyright 2001-2016 Colorado River Rats™
Last updated: March 12, 2002.

Website & Photography by Michelle Kirk