There are a lot of ways to experience the Colorado River: rafting, kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddleboarding. Now one can rocket upriver at 40 miles per hour and spinning 360s on an 11-man jet boat.
“It was amazing!” said Antonio Arcadi, a visitor from California who went on a Moab Jett adventure tour. “You just fly over the water. It’s like a rollercoaster on a river.”
That roller coaster is piloted by Cassidy Blank.
Blank and his partner Annie Adams, the owners and operators of Moab Jett: Colorado River Jet Boat Tours, both have well over a decade of experience piloting “just about everything on the river,” Adams said.
The couple became friends while attending middle and high school in Salt Lake City. Blank’s family were long-time river enthusiasts. Blank in turn introduced Adams to the Colorado River.
“We decided to come down here (to Moab) because we weren’t getting enough river time,” Adams said. “We decided that we wanted to become guides back in 2001.”
Though neither Blank nor Adams had ever lived in Moab before, Blank‘s family had lived in the area on and off for generations; his great uncle, Bud Blank had been Moab’s police commissioner.
The two worked for a number of operators, learning first-hand the ins and outs of taking people on the river.
Then, on New Year’s Eve in 2011, Adams was involved in a car accident that left her with injuries that kept her from guiding for an entire season.
Last year, due in part to Adams injuries, the couple began searching for a new career path. One that would keep them on the river that they loved, but also allow them to see each other more than four or five times a summer.
“I was just not back to where I used to be (after the accident), and Cassidy always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Adams. “This was just the next step.”
Having piloted jet boats for Tag-a-Long Expeditions for years, Blank started looking into starting his own operation. After some research the couple flew out to the east coast.
“Last year we decided to go out and check them out and go drive them,” Blank said. “Then we decided to buy them.”
The boat they chose was an aluminum jet boat designed in New Zealand but produced in America. To be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard a jet boat has to be made in America.
“It is designed to run on four inches of water. It has a catalytic converter, so it puts out less emissions than an outboard motor does,” Blank said.
That, Adams said, also means that it is quieter than other jet boats.
In setting up the business the couple received help and guidance from Bob Jones, the owner of Tag-a-Long Expeditions and Blank’s former boss.
Since their first trip on May 11 this year, business has been growing. With a permit for 42-miles of the Colorado River, stretching from Dead Horse Point up to Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab Jett can offer guests a wide range of trips, from scenic cruises to faster, wetter rides. Though Blank readily admits that Moab Jett is more geared toward the adventure-oriented crowd.
Moab Jett is also happy to work with groups to organize custom tours, Adams said.
“It’s been really cool how its blossomed,” she said. “We are running an average of two trips a day, it has been pretty good so far.”
While tourists have been the company’s main clients, Adams also said that many locals have been coming on trips as well.
And already the couple has expanded the tours that they offer to include a joint trip with Xtreme 4×4. For this trip guests ride a jet boat to a rendezvous with a 4×4, which brings them along trails back to town.
But while the pair does plan to expand the variety of trips that they offer, they want to keep the business small for several reasons, not the least of which is that it would be hard for Blank to let someone else drive the boat.
“It’s hard to send your boat out with someone else,” he laughed. “A lot of people ask me what the best seat is and I say the driver’s seat.”