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January 10, 2013

‘Thrill’ boat rides on the Ohio coming to Madison

Attraction will cover 40 miles of the Ohio River

MADISON — Boat tours of the Ohio River are coming to Madison by early summer. But these won’t be your average boat tours.

Wild Thing Jet Boat Rides offers tours on a New Zealand-style jet boat, a light-weight boat that propels itself with a 450-horse-power Corvette engine that pumps 50 gallons of water per second from the bottom of the boat through a tube in the back. The boat can reach speeds of up to 50 mph and can carry 11 passengers and a captain.

Tours will cover a 40-mile stretch of the Ohio River.

Co-owner Paul Nicholson said they offer a “thrill ride up and down the Ohio River.”

“It only needs 4 inches of water to operate,” Nicholson said. “There’s nothing that sticks below the hull, so it can do things a normal boat can’t. It can spin its own length, it can spin sideways on the water, it can stop within its own length.”

The company also will offer a more traditional tour on a western-style boat for people interested in learning more about the history of the river.

Nicholson and co-owner Janet Harding signed a three-year lease with the city to bring the business to Madison.

Nicholson and Harding also own a sister business in North Carolina.

Nicholson said the business would be seasonal and he hoped to be ready by the first of May. Daily boat tours would be available until the Chautauqua Festival of Art in September. Weekend tours would continue after that depending on weather and river conditions.

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