SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Wilderness at the Smokies is hoping to dispel what it calls misinformation about the attraction after backlash from community members. Neighbors were concerned the new attraction would disrupt wildlife and people who live on the river.
The resort just received a permit to build a 400 square foot dock along the French Broad River. It will be next to the Highway 66 Bridge in Sevier County.
“We want to be a good neighbor and co-exist with others who enjoy the river,” said Russell Archuleta, the General Manager at Wilderness at the Smokies. “A boat ride is a fun way to showcase the natural beauty for locals who may not otherwise have the opportunity or means to experience the French Broad River, and for tourists who are enjoying a family vacation and creating memories for their children.”
Archuleta said the jet boat is not to be confused with a loud speedboat. He said the boats are as loud as a vacuum cleaner, 20 feet long and only hold 11 passengers. What’s more, they don’t have an external propeller, so there is little to no risk of injury through blade impact on the river.
The design uses system were water is circulated through a jet-pump so that all moving parts are inside the vessel and never contact the riverbend or shoreline. Archuleta said the boat can pass through as little as four inches of water without affecting the river environment.
As for concerns about erosion from the new attraction, Archuleta said the maximum wake of the boat when doing a spin maneuver is only one-foot. “This is the equivalent of the wake of a slow moving bass boat by the time it reaches the shore,” he said.