I got drawn down to Southwest Colorado this spring to assist in my good friends dream of starting a Hop farm. Billy Goat Hop Farm to be exact. While hop farming was at a slow pace early on, I was able to pursue some of my passions. It started out at the Silverton Splitboard festival. As a splitboard festival planner myself I was intrigued to check out Silverton’s, hosted by Venture snowboards. On my second day of shredding Red Mountain Pass I could feel the river calling me. I had a Yampa River trip planned for the end of April and the Delores River was also running. I got back to my van from shredding and threw my board and my dog in my van and ended up driving to Aztec, NM in search for a guitar dry bag. Being that’s where Jack’s Plastic Welding is located I was sure they would have one. What I didn’t know was, how awesome of a company JPW is and the new friends I was about to make!
I was greeted by Errol. Errol is the production manager and has been working at Jack’s for many of years. He showed me around the shop a bit and directed me towards a guitar dry bag and a paco pad. I had an Aire paco pad at one point but sold it because it really just wasn’t that comfortable.
Jack’s paco pads had a reputation for being the best so I decided to try one out. I purchased the Paco Pad full and a guitar dry bag. He had some factory blemish ones for a good deal which was great! I felt he appreciated that I drove to their store! We got talking about rafting and ended up knowing some of the same rafters I knew. Actually one of the owners of Billy Goat Hop Farm, Audrey. The Delores river came up and he insisted that I go talk to his brother Rod that was leaving in 15 minutes to run the Delores.
I followed Eroll back to the shop and here was Rod welding away! Rod is the Chief Welder and Shop Supervisor. He has also been working at Jack’s for years. I think 29 or so! I shook Rod’s hand and talked details on the Delores. I could tell right away that Rod is a great dude! I asked if I could join up with his trip and he said “Hell yeah!”
“You got a boat?”
I replied “No, (kinda awkward at this moment) I got some beer, food, a dog and a new guitar dry bag.”
He replied “You know how to row a boat?”
I said, “Yeah, I can row a boat, well gosh darn I can flip one too!”
Rod says, “Ya know what, I got just the boat for you and your dog to try out!” (still kinda awkward) “It’s called a Cutthroat.”
I thought to myself, that sounds interesting. I agreed to give it a shot without knowing what it was besides some sort of cataraft. My first look at the frame, I wasn’t quite sure what to think…. It’s 2 feet wide by like 8 ft long. Then we grabbed the tubes that were deflated and threw it in my van. Loaded up Rod’s truck with his boat, food, beer and Cathy (Rod’s wife) and we were off!
(OK cool! These guys are awesome! Awkwardness goes away!)
Introducing The Cutthroat Raft
The drive down to the Delores is a great one no matter which direction your coming from. We get to camp at a reasonable hour and start inflating boats. The tubes for the frame happen to be 12ft long and 16” in diameter. After putting it all together this thing looked even more interesting than it sounded.
Rod said, “This thing is the Ferrari of catarafts!”
Caleb, Bobby, Gary and some other friends of Rod and Cathy showed up soon after and got to meet the crew!
We ended up floating Ponderosa Canyon the next day which was a beautiful, fun, splashy section of river. It was perfect to try the Cutthroat on!
I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit my dog Flea on but I improvised with my new paco pad and made it work!
Flea hung on tight as we cut thru the class III section of river. The acceleration, agility and preciseness of the cutthroat gave boating a new feel! It felt so playful and light but was able to hit big rapids no problem The next adventure was going to be the Yampa!
As I departed from my new friends with the cutthroat, I thought, the Yampa is a little bigger water and a 5 day trip. Wonder how this thing will do…? I drove up to Steamboat to meet up with an old pal name Justin. J hooked me up with a cooler being mine could not fit enough beer for 5 days and wallah, the cutthroat was set! Never going down the Yampa before I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a massive river.
As I was rowing across the Yampa in my sombrero, Lexi determined the new name for the cutthroat was the Rio Grande! While everyone else had full size gear boats here I was with this little cutthroat. What a playful, hard hitting little boat. It managed to exceed all my expectations. Having a big cooler on the back I thought it may be a bit tipsy towards the rear but the extra weight just helped it. The last day of the trip is when you hit the Green River and the water gets a bit bigger besides warm springs rapid. Sunshine rapid came up and I made it ¾’s of the way thru and the last lateral just crushed me. If I would of teed up a second sooner I wouldn’t of flipped. Either way jumped on top and flipped back over mid river and was on my way. You can recover this boat very quickly as long as ya hang on to it I found out. What a blast the Yampa river was on the cutthroat!
After the Yampa I went back to farming for a bit until they released the Delores. Word on the street said it was going to flow over 4000 cfs. It sure did! Snag rapid turns into a pretty mean class IV at this flow. I watched a kayaker swim right before I ran it and it gave me the shakes. I ended up getting pushed into the same hole as the yaker at the end of the rapid and thought for sure I was doomed! The worst has happened! I went into it sideways and got ready to high side. I stayed up right, started surfing and spinning out of control, up on all fours on this little cutthroat, counter balancing, and bingo it flushed me out! With it being such a small craft, you are always a bit worried about flipping, but as long as you become friends with the cutthroat, it responds very nicely. As I was getting more and more used to rowing this thing, it just got better and better.
The small technical waters of Colorado is where it excelled but wasn’t afraid of big water either. To be fair, there might be a few things that may retract you from buying a cutthroat as well. It is just a 1 person craft, not to say you can’t fit 2 people on it, but it isn’t very practical. There isn’t a whole lot of room for gear if you are looking for luxury. It is a bit squirrelly and gets pushed around pretty easily that can make things interesting.
Paco Pad Review
The Paco Pad I bought from JPW was there baseline pad. Only 1.5” thick I was a bit worried it wasn’t going to be much better than the Aire pad I used to have. The Aire pad was 2” thick. Even know JPW pad was thinner it presented itself to be much more comfortable. JPW says there comfort comes from there high quality foam they use within the pad. It definitely made a difference to me. If you want to spoil yourself a bit more, they have pads that are up to 4” thick. If you are in search of a paco pad I would highly recommend going with a JPW pad.
Throughout this time with the cutthroat I was able to get to meet and greet with the most of the Jacks Plastic crew! Even Jack himself. Jack was a Grand Canyon oarsman before he start JPW in 1982. Most rafters know of the company from the famous Paco Pad he created.
What most people don’t know are all the custom boats they make, dry bags, and the industrial plastic products. They have the ability to make anything you want. The have a baseline of rafts, catarafts, and frames and if you have a different idea let them know. There boats are made with the highest quality PVC right here in the USA if you can believe that. JPW has a great selection of dry bags as well. Guitar bags, dry duffles, backpacks and so on. Its great to have such an awesome company around! They take so much care into each and every product they make.
Quality these days can be hard to find. If your looking for a new fun little raft, a big raft, paco pads, dry bags and all sorts of other goodies make sure to check out there website or stop on in to there store. They have so much info about there company and products. I will forever be grateful for stopping by their store that day. I would really love to thank Jack, Erroll, Perry, and especially Rod and Cathy for giving me the opportunity and for being great people. Cheers!
P.S. Don’t expect to walk in Jack’s Plastic and have them give ya a boat to try out but golly jeeee wizinator ya just never know.
About myself- I raft guide, splitboard, try to play the guitar, construct things, love my dog, love my family and friends and embrace the outdoors in anyway possible.