▲ The actual ride is less leisurely than it looks from the shore. Photo by Darren Southcott
As we board the jet boat, the captain looks mean, even otherworldly, wearing a bandana over his face and dark sunglasses. Although it is surely intended to protect his skin from sunburn, I want to see the whites of his eyes before I put my life in his hands.
He asks us all to hold on tight to the bar in front as the engine starts up. This seems fine, we all think, as the boat leaves the jetty. The captain then makes a signal with his hands and we speed off over the waves. It seems fun, just a leisurely ride down the coast.
I have never been a big fan of theme park rides, even as a kid, and this seemed to be much like one of them. A few shrieks and screams as we get splashed, or slightly jarred to the side, but nothing too scary. Then, suddenly, things change.
Bang! Thud! Bang! The New Zealandmade boat crashes into wave after wave, while my knees are jammed up against the rail in front. I hold on as tight as possible, but my body is pushed and pulled, taking the full punishment of the boat as it slams into the sea.
From the coast these jet boats look majestic as they rise and fall, zipping like a skimming stone across the surface of the sea. Now, seated on one, the sound of each meeting with the ocean clangs below, while my feet float in mid-air before being slammed into the floor.
The captain is now enjoying his power and takes his hands from the wheel. He cracks a few bones in his fingers and limbers up — we wonder what is coming next.
“Vroooom.” we fly off again, this time at an even higher speed. Bang, bang, bang, the boat — which can reach 40 knots — resounds as we hop over wave after wave.
The 360-degree turns are the most hair-raising, and they are made no better by the captain signaling them with a little twirl of his finger. Speeding at full tilt, he slams on the brakes, twisting one way and then another. With each turn he ducks down, treating the front row to a face full of seawater.
The screams are ceaseless now, mixed with nervous laughter and downright silent fear. Reveling in his superstardom, the captain pulls the boat below the cliffs, waves at tourists, overtakes pleasure boats, and even shows off some turns at Jungmun Beach.
If he could guarantee my survival, I would ask for more derring-do. As this guarantee is not forthcoming, I silently wish for a quick return to shore.
However, the captain has other plans, and has yet to fully prove his manliness. We all brace ourselves as the boat powers on — Clang! Bang! Splash! Twist! Jar! Thud! — for one last gut-wrenching burst.
As the boat reaches shore we are all buzzing, either from excitement or from being happy to be alive. The captain becomes human again, reaching out an arm to help me off of the boat. I grant him a “sugo haessseummnida,” and wonder how he survives, day after day.
All good theme park rides should leave us questioning our survival, and Jeju Jet Boat certainly does that! A massive recommend for any adrenaline junkie.
Jeju Jet Boat
172-5, Daepo-ro, Seogwipo-si (064-739-3939)
Tickets: 25,000 won for adults / 20,000 for high
school students and younger
Duration: 20 minutes
Times: Around one per hour (call first)
* Arrive 30 minutes before departure
** Boats operate in rain and snow
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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Registration Number: Jeju Da 01093 | Date of Registration: November 20, 2008 | Publisher: Hee Tak Ko | Youth policy: Hee Tak Ko
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