My husband and I had talked about doing a Hell's Canyon trip for a very long time so were pretty excited to go. Our trip was on Friday, August 15, 204. We were told to be at the dock no later than 7:45 because the boat would leave promptly at 8:00 AM. When we arrived the boat was not there. We were told it had to be taken up to clean out the jet grates, due to debris in the river from a storm the previous day. The boat arrived around 8:20 and we loaded up. About 15-20 mins into the trip, the jet grates apparently got clogged again. The captain did his best to clear the jets but was not able to do so and had to limp the boat to shore and tie up. This is where our day started going down hill.
My husband and I were seated just behind the captain, in the front of the boat so we knew what was going on (my husband also used to be a boat mechanic and owned a jet boat). Most of the other 37 people on board had no idea why we had stopped. The captain, instead of explaining what the trouble was, just grabbed his phone, got off the boat and took off up to the road, leaving everyone to Mike, a brand new, very nice but uninformed deck hand, wondering what was going on and if we should (or could) all get off the boat. We felt the situation would have been made a lot better if Captain Gary had announced what the trouble was, offered everyone some sort of snack, said there was water in the back (which had never been mentioned) apologized (even though we get that the debris wasn't Beamer's fault) and that he would be back as soon as possible. Instead he just disappeared for about 45 mins while we all milled around and most, finally exited the boat. When Captain Gary returned he was carrying some sort of broom handle or stick and a piece of wire. It was then obvious (at least to us) that he had been searching for something with which to clean out the engine grates. While we completely understand that the debris in the water cannot be controlled and that jets do clog, it was unacceptable that he just left everyone hanging, wondering what was up and that there was nothing on the boat with which to clean the grates. Did someone drop the ball? We can't imagine this doesn't happen all the time. Anyway, after another 15-20 mins they were able to get the grates cleared and we were off again.
We made it to Heller's Bar where (based on previous reviews), we expected there would be some sort of snack offered or at least available to purchase. There was nothing but coffee and juice, and a lot of us were getting a little hungry after having had breakfast before 7:00 AM. By then it was probably 10:45 +/-. When my husband asked if there was anything to purchase or if there were snacks available, he was told there were not. Our feeling was that the crew could have easily offered to let us dig into our lunch bags where they knew there were granola bars and trail mix. Most people didn't eat all their lunch and saved the trail mix and the granola bars for later anyway.
Suggestion: A sandwich, chips and a cookie or small snack size candy bar is plenty for lunch. The trail mix and granola bars need to be given out in the morning. Due to the unscheduled stop, by the time we stopped for lunch it was 1:00 and many of us were famished.
The sack lunch was sufficient and the location was fine, except for the dock sinking in the middle and the ramp not stabilized (a safety hazard). It seems like some money needs to be spent at this location to make the dock and the ramp safer. We had a number of older folks on our boat.
Another side note, others have mentioned they couldn't hear when the captain was speaking, and we had the same problem. We were seated right behind him and had a terrible time hearing anything he said. Beamer's has commented that as response to the other comments that it's hard to hear over the jet boat engines but we're talking about not being able to hear when the boat is still and the engines are pretty quiet. This speaker system needs an overhaul in order to make the experience more enjoyable.
The rest of the day was OK although due to the earlier trouble, we were very rushed at the Kirkland Ranch (only about a 20 minute stop and it took 10 mins to get off the boat and up the hill). There was some narrative about the Nez Perce tribe and the geology on the way back but not nearly as much as we thought there would be and again, we were straining to try to understand what was being said anyway. We were a little surprised at how barren Hell's Canyon is. We did see about five Big Horn Sheep in one spot and a few deer but that was it. Honestly and of course this is just our opinion, we thought the scenery got a little boring after awhile and we looked forward to an occasional cabin, chair on the beach, anything other than the same, dry, barren scenery. Perhaps one should take the trip earlier in the season when it is much greener up there.
On the way back we had to stop for fuel where we'd had lunch. We were told we couldn't go up to use the restrooms because everything was locked up. This turned out not to be true as others came back and reported they were open. Given this information, I used the head on the boat which was OK, but had no wipes or any way to sanitize ones hands. Also during this fuel stop, the deck hand, Mike immediately lit up a cigarette as soon as he started fueling up the boat. While we knew that the situation wasn't as dangerous because they were using diesel, not everyone on the boat did and I hear people whispering about how he was putting us all in danger- just not very professional. If they need to smoke, they need to do it where the passengers can't see them and definitely away from the fueling area on the dock!
We finally arrived back at about 7:00 PM. We were all hungry again and more than ready to be off the boat. Again, as the title to my review says, the trip was OK, just not great. We feel like it could have been made a lot better if the captain and deck hand had been more professional and had a little more consideration for the passengers. The debris in the grate situation was not anyone's fault, but it certainly could have been handled a whole lot better. We once took an all day jet trip up the Rogue River and got off feeling like it was one of the most fun days we had ever experienced. We were looking forward to this one to Hell's Canyon coming out the same and it just didn't happen. If we ever do it again (which I doubt we will), we will try another company simply because of the way a bad situation was handled by Beamer's crew. Normally we would have tipped the crew but given the way this day went, there was no way we felt any tipping was deserved. Sorry Beamer's.
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