THE FRIENDSHIP CRUISE
In the fall of 1957 officials from Moab and Green River Utah Chambers of Commerce gathered to set the stage for a Canyon Country River Marathon. A boat race from Green River to Moab, Utah on the Green and Colorado Rivers.
Their efforts and enthusiasum soon aroused national interest. Requests for information came from all over the country, so a preliminary pleasure boat trip was planned to acquaint newsmen, photographers, prospective racers and pleasure boaters with the most spectacular canyon country in the United States which was only accessible by boat.
On Saturday, May 10,1958, boats of all types and description, manned by adventure seeking sportsmen and women, were launched on the Green River for the 196 mile, 2 day river trip. It was so popular that it developed into an annual event which coincided with boats racing the course. This resulted in the forming of the Canyon Country River Marathon Association (CCRMA). Racing ended in the late 1960s but the pleasure boat “Friendship Cruise” has continued every year since with the only exceptions being when water flows were just to low to make the trip enjoyable and safe.
At its peak the “Friendship Cruise” hosted over 600 boats during the two to three day trip. The cities of Green River and Moab Utah were transformed with the tremendous influx of people and equipment. Community breakfasts were served in Green River at the beginning of the Cruise. There were dances held at Anderson Bottom on the first night and a steak fry in Moab when the boats came out the next day. That was the “Friendship Cruise” of the late 60s and 70s.
A few years of low water cancellations, bad weather, environmental concerns and an extremely bad economy in the late 70s/early 80s caused many boaters to stay away. The “Friendship Cruise” suffered during those hard times as permits were harder to obtain, insurance costs skyrocketed, and the low volume of participants forced the “Cruise” to take a back seat to the evolving off road and biking enthusiasts. Although there were some very dedicated people doing all they could to keep the “Cruise” alive, their enthusiasm also waned. The nonprofit nature of the CCRMA did not create any incentive to continue fighting what seemed to be ever increasing road blocks. It appeared the “Cruise” would die due to lack of interest and the constant new hurdles placed in front of the organizers. .
Just as many thought the “Friendship Cruise” was dying, along came the Emery County Sheriffs Office who stepped up to the plate and said they would sponsor the “Cruise” on behalf of the Emery County Sheriffs Posse. With that sponsorship came new life to the “Cruise”. A few good people from the Sheriffs office and some “old cruisers” from Green River, Utah came forward and said “Lets get it back!” Since then those great people have made it thier passsion to insure the “Friendship Cruise” continues and are working hard to see it grow. They work for free, giving any monies in excess of expenses to the Posse. Their greatest satisfaction and reason for working so hard is to share this incredible trip with as many people as they can. As they say ” When you see people come off the river at the conclusion, so excited about what they have seen and accomplished, and saying they can hardly wait ’till next year when they can do it again, IT MAKES IT ALL WORTH IT!!”
Many people and organizations make the “Friendship Cruise” possible. By making acknowledgments we know we will miss many but feel we do need to be sure and recognized the following not in any order of importance:
- The Emery County Sheriff and members of his office
- Kathy Ryan – Commodore
- Mitch Vetere – Coordinator
- Kieth Brady – Information Manager
- National Park Service – Canyonlands
- Bureau of Land Management
- Utah State Parks Department
- Search and Rescue Boat operators (personal equipment)
- HAM Radio Operators (personal equipment)
- Vehicle Drivers
- Launch and retrieving crews
- Fuel vendor agreeing to take their equipment to Mineral Bottom
- All the other voluteers who do all the other things to make the trip possible
- Each and every Cruiser that comes and supports the event at the river and at home by talking to other boaters
- Last but not Least — MOTHER NATURE FOR PROVIDING SUCH SPECTACULAR SCENERY FOR US TO ENJOY