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September 27, 2005

EJ, Clay and David,
You guys did a great job and designed one wild creek boat!
After doing the research, making the order, and then waiting 5 months
patiently for my jet black Rocker I was more than ready to unwrap the
thing and put many hours of reading Jackson web site updates and technical
data study into reality by the time it arrived. I finally was able to
pick the boat up during the week before labor day weekend which was a
little late as I was just about to set out on a 4 day self support trip
down the Babine and Skeena Rivers, northwest of Smithers, BC. There would
be 11 of us in total on the trip, most hailing from Terrace and Kitimat
with myself and a close friend driving the 20 hours north from Nelson,
BC (I had been living in Terrace during the previous year).
The trip is sorta less on the paddling and more on stunning scenery, but,
when you least expect it, you suddenly find yourself getting back-endered
into massive mirage like holes or pin-balling thru tight constrictive
boiley and churning canyon hydraulics that are all home to feasting grizzly
bears waiting to snag spawning north pacific salmon on either side of
ya. If It’s not the swim that gets ya, the curious 400lb feeding grizz
in the eddy pool should. River protocol – Don’t Swim!
Oh, what a trip it was. The Babine is quite a well known and classic run
in the area and being in the care of a few Babine veteran paddlers made
it really an entertaining -"hiccup" – journey.

Hoping that I would of had some big water demo time
and/or new boat handling/outfitting characteristics figured out before
packing the Rocker right up with 85lbs of camp gear, food, clothing and
booze made me a little nervous, especially seeing that I had limited stowage
space due to the untraditional foot brace, foam pillar and hull rod integral
relationships. I watched others remove their boats¹ pillars and footbraces
all together in order to cram extra gear. However, during the boat packing
party on the night before our early morning put in, My early misconceptions
about stowage room were proven wrong and I ended up fitting everything
and a lot more into the Rocker, and might I ad, all extremely well!

With the fully retracted (and slightly filed down)
foot brace plate I could slide 2 small flattened dry bags under and behind
the unique system in the bow. Then the accommodating height of the rear
cockpit rim edge and peaked stern deck gave me an advantage over many
of the other boats on the trip (ie: Jefe¹s and Nomad¹s) and
allowed for great ease when it came to 4 days of stuffing and removing
large compression sacks and dry bags full of food and supplies from behind
the back band. There was also a 2 man tent, camera case, bear spray bottle
and throw bag tucked horizontal, yet comfortable and safe under my knees
and strapped down and buckled firmly around the rigid hull rod. The rest
of the oh-so-simple ³is this really gonna work² foam and pull
cord outfitting then did its job superbly and kept me tightly cradled
and cramp free (a first in any boat for this 6¹3², 170lb Canuck)
for the entire trip. And how about those slick grab loops. Hauling the
boat up to the camp sites off the river edge was so delightful on the
wrist that people were trading me boats to do so. Lotsa good remarks from
the entire group about those loops. Then there was that resilient jet
black cross-linked plastic all around me that made the boat so damn slippery
on some seal launches that I was more scared trying to get into the boat
than the class 4+ rapid I was dropping into. But the trade off for the
plastic allows for an impressively light, virtually puncture proof and
thus stiff and strong, 8¹, 74 gallon, hydraulic bulldozing machine.
Never did I come off line as the boat tracks really well, edges and accelerates
like wet glass, cross currents, punches holes and smooths over boils in
a big gentle giant sort of way. It does everything the Jackson web site
says. It feels like a big boat but, inspires confidence yet it handles
like a playboat. And with that, I just have to say it, as it was a fully
loaded "creek boat", -it surfed until I puked on some of the
huge rumbler waves found along the impressive and massive Skeena River
that ended out our trip. Our groups few surf addicts, including myself
were all dueling it out over the days on some of the most amazing one
shot river play waves offered in BC. In the end, it was the graceful and
simple ³flat -displacement² hull lines of the Rocker that had
the most complete and epic surfs chalked up -and what doozies they were.
2-3 minutes some times of 255lb creek boat wave ³grader-ing².
What a wild feel. Sorta like riding in and on top of molasses. I haven’t
had surfs like that in my (non Jackson) playboat, ever!

So there you have it. Probably the first documented
self support run in a Rocker by someone who doesn’t work for the company
and all I can say now is that I am ecstatic about the whole experience.
I cant wait to chase the run-off here in the West Kootenays next spring
with this new boat of mine. I am glad I waited as long as I did and that
I took a chance and gambled on an ³unproven² creek boat design.
However, I trusted you guys after seeing the success with the Star and
Fun Series, which by the way, I have been demoing and have narrowed it
down to a 2006 All Star after sitting in and surfing it and 4 other company¹s
top designs. Man do your boats have them all beat. If there is anything
I can complain about though it has to be the back band and how it drops
too low after doing a few good torso movements. I solved the issue by
building a plastic, adjustable, vertical height plate that cotter pins
to the rear of the back band and sits right over the hull rod between
the rear pillar and seat; sort of influenced by Riot¹s recent outfitting
Enough Said. I am one happy customer and will be seeing you guys take
the forefront in boat design and sport leadership in 2006 and beyond.
I thank you for your creative and athletic energy and will cherish the
day I get to paddle with any of you or any other happy Jackson customer
on a piece of water somewhere on this great earth.
Grizzly Bears in the eddies are optional…

Nelson, BC, Canada.
-Enjoy the pics from the trip.




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Sunset over The Skeena

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Slow Carl at the put in

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Carl- slide rock canyon

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Camp Fire, Day One