A Little bit about us
In September 1998 year Craig Compeau and an Idaho boating buddy, Steve Stajkowski, were on a moose hunting trip far up the Nation River off the Yukon.
Steve had started his own boat building company a few years earlier, and around the campfire, the conversation turned to “what’s next.” Compeau suggested they collectively design and build something never seen in the marine industry: an inboard mounted tunnel hull jet boat. Mercury had just developed their V6 Sportjet package, with an extremely efficient jet pump that lost 9% of its crankshaft rated HP, vs 30% or more with competitive jet units.
They started work and by the following summer, the prototype was ready to test. They had developed a twenty-one foot fully welded boat with a six-foot bottom and six-degree dead rise. The tunnel had been repeatedly fine-tuned until it carved hard corners with zero cavitation or slippage. The excitement level after seeing this boat perform was off the scale. Everyone involved with the project knew that this revolutionary boat was about to change all the rules, as well as the limitations about navigating shallow waters.
Over the next decade, with the introduction of Mercury’s direct injected Optimax power plant, advances continued to accelerate. With its fuel-efficient power plant weighing only 375 lbs (that’s engine and jet combined), Compeau knew his biggest new problem would have nothing to do with engineering and everything to do with meeting demand. And it proved true; once the public learned of the innovative new boat, Compeau’s rarely had a backlog of orders less than 12 weeks.
2011 was a critically important year for the company. Compeau and his boat were both featured on National Geographic’s popular “Doomsday Preppers”, and it was the most highly viewed episode of the season. That same year, the Compeau crew set a new “sign moving” record up the Goodpaster River, a contest his father had initiated nearly 40 years earlier as a challenge to all other boaters and dealers in the area. A $1,000 reward was offered for anyone who could reach the sign, which hung in the woods up the northern river, and returned their eight-foot sign, which reads, “If you can read this, you must be driving an SJX from Compeau’s”. To this day the sign remains untouched. (Videos about the challenge are available for Compeau’s website at www.compeaus.com)
The SJX jet boat has become the company’s flagship product, not only in Compeau’s vast Alaskan backyard but in all corners of the world, from Alberta to Texas and from Fiji to Barcelona. Compeau sells the boats at his store, direct from the factory, or delivered anywhere on the globe.
According to Craig Compeau, now president of the 70-year-old, four-generation family business, “We just like to keep innovating. It’s what we live for.”
Those new innovations include a helm mounted jet cleanout lever, wheel kit, and a capstan winch that slides into the nose of the boat are just a few of the cool “must have” features for those river addicts who like to get as far as the river as possible. Perhaps the most dynamic feature of this go-anywhere boat has been the development and refinement of the UHMW Black Ice bottom. This nearly half-inch thick slippery and incredibly durable sleeve protection is made of a molecular weight material that adheres to the bottom of the boat using a highly specialized process. It involves pre-fitted components, a two-part marine cement, high tech vacuum process, composite welder, and intense attention to detail. It takes workers two full days to complete the process, but Compeau says it’s worth it and refers to it as “an insurance policy for your boat bottom”.
Who knows what the next few years will bring for river runners who live to peruse the furthest most headwaters rivers where often times no one has boated before. Actually, Compeau knows. But when you ask him, he simply smiles mischievously and says “Stay tuned.”
We’ll have to wait and see, but rumor has it that a new prototype might just be heading for that sign on the upper Goodpaster sometime soon.