Watch Out For Those Surges Over Some Seats!

This is our “before” picture.

“Wild Thing, you make my heart sing.”  –The Troggs

“Wild Thing, you make me have to change my socks and boxer shorts.”   –Jeff Brown

Hold on!  Hold on! 


As a sheet of frigid water descended on my wife and me, my mind raced back to a half hour earlier.  We were standing in a parking lot near our station wagon.  The rear hatch was open and I was gazing inside.  A battle was raging in my brain between my extreme dread of getting soaking wet and my fear of looking like a complete wuss to a group of strangers.

“Are you ready?” asked Vickie.

I grabbed my navy blue rain coat and held it up.  “I’m trying to decide if I want to wear this or not.  Do you want yours?”

“No, it’s hot out here.  The water will feel good.”

She had a point.  It was warm (in the seventies) especially standing on the asphalt in the sun, but I knew it would be cooler on the water– a lot cooler.  In the end my dread of being uncomfortable trumped my fear of looking stupid and I tied the coat around my waist.  “Let’s go,” I said.

Vickie and I were enjoying a weekend at Wisconsin Dells and we were embarking on the 1200hp Wild Thing Jet Boat Tour.  The ride is marketed as 50% fast, 50% slow, 100% fun with power stops, 360 spins, sprays of water, and surges over some seats.  As we waited for a bus to pick us up and take us to the Wisconsin River, I glanced at the group of my fellow passengers.  They were all wearing shorts and t-shirts and I could read their minds.

Total Stranger#1: Do you see that goofy looking guy over there with his raincoat tied around his waist?

Total Stranger#2: Yeah, I’m surprised he didn’t bring his blankey.  What a wuss!

The ten minute bus ride was, well…hot.  There were approximately 40 of us all together, and we were glad when we made it to the river and boarded the boat.  The Wild Thing had a camouflage paint scheme and passengers were seated about six across.  There were large plastic containers tucked under the seats and the captain was ensconced in the back in an elevated, Plexiglas encased bridge. 

He spoke through a loud speaker.  (I’m paraphrasing here.)  “Welcome everyone to the Wild Thing.  If you have any valuables you don’t want to get wet, please place them inside the plastic containers in front of you.  I guarantee you’re going to get wet, if not completely soaked.”

I glanced at my wife and smirked as I untied my raincoat and put it on.  “You know, Vick,” I said as I zipped it up, “if you get wet and cold and want my raincoat midway through this ride, don’t you worry.”  I lifted the hood up over my head, pulled the strings tight, and continued, “There’s no way I’m giving it to you.  Hahaha!”

She shook her head and grinned.  “You’re so mean!”

The captain went on.  “Notice the handrails in front of you.  When I say “hold on” I want you to grab them tight.  We’ll reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour and make frequent abrupt stops.  If anybody falls out of the boat, I’m not going back for you.  Hahaha!”

This guy, I thought, is pretty funny.

Then the captain revved the boat’s engines and we accelerated up the river.  I felt the skin on my face forced back by air pressure and my hood flipped off as the captain shouted, “Hold on!  Hold on!  Hold on!”  The boat decelerated and spun to the right, kicking up a huge wave of water.


I looked at Vickie.  Her hair was soaked and her eyes cried out to me, “Can I borrow your raincoat?”

My eyes responded, “You’ll have to pry it from my cold wet fingers.”

But there wasn’t time because we were soon tearing up the river again.  We’d begun a series of accelerations and decelerations, followed by underwear drenching waves.  The captain occasionally remarked, “Here’s an interesting rock formation that looks like an elephant’s behind.  Hold on!  Hold on!”


“Here’s where Native Americans used to camp. Hold on! Hold on!”


I did manage to notice through my water specked spectacles that it was a beautiful day. The sky was cobalt blue, lush trees flanked both sides of the wide river, and there were numerous other boats whizzing by.

“Hold on! Hold on!”


I don’t remember much else.  All I could think about was how soaked my shirt, pants, and yes, my underwear were.  The flimsy raincoat was no match for the waves, but I was glad I brought it because it helped keep me warm in the 70 mph wind. 

When the boat finally pulled back to the dock, Vickie and I scrambled off the craft and tipped the captain on his, err…driving skills.  There were future passengers lined up on our way back to the bus.  One of them noticed how wet we were and I heard him say to his wife, “Maybe we should have brought raincoats.”

On our drive home the next day, I asked Vickie what part of the vacation she liked best.  “Was it the ride on the famous Army Ducks?  How about that awesome water-ski show?”

She looked at me thoughtfully and replied, “I think it was the Wild Thing ride.”

I remember thinking her opinion was all wet– along with my shirt, pants, and underwear. 

We managed to get one of the total strangers to take this “after” picture of us.

Special Note:  If you don’t mind getting wet and you’re in the Wisconsin Dells area, I highly recommend the Wild Thing Jet Boat Tour.  Here’s a link to their website

However, I strongly urge you to go on a warm day and wear a scuba suit under your raincoat.