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American Custom Marine’s Knoblock Looks Forward—And Back

Sometime in early to mid-May, the 17th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run organizing committee will decide and announce whether the July 10-11 event in Northern Michigan will happen. That decision hinges on how Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer decides to move forward with the state’s current stay-at-home mandates, which most recently extended to a ban of all recreational motorized boats on the water. That restriction has not sat well with many high-performance powerboat owners in the state, especially since vessels such as kayaks, canoes and sailboats are still permitted.

No one is more eager to get back in business—and back on the water—than Michael Knoblock of American Custom Marine. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.

Hitting hard at the industry level, all marinas and boat dealerships in Michigan have been shut down by government order. Among those businesses forced to navigate those rough economic waters is American Custom Marine in Kimball. Company owner Michael Knoblock said he is as concerned about what will happen when the waterways finally open to powerboats as he is with the current situation.

“We have been busy all winter,” Knoblock said. “I have a huge backlog of boats waiting to come in for service, but I can’t schedule them. I have three Nor-Tech center consoles—a 340, a 390 and a 450—that will be done in May and need to be delivered.

“We have been shut down since March 20 and we were so busy,” he continued. “All of our customers will be upset at how far behind we are. I feel really bad because we can’t get our customers’ boats done. We’re not allowed to let anyone in. A friend of mine who owns a marina had a customer get really angry because he could not let him in, but he can get fined if he does.”

Though Knoblock knows customers will be eager if not impatient to get on the water, patience is going to be paramount, he said. Like his customers, he can’t wait to return to the water. Knoblock owns Mamba, a well-known 51-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom.

That need for patience applies to currently registered participants in the 2020 Boyne Thunder Poker Run, which as noted above will make an announcement regarding the event next month.

Knoblock has been involved as a Boyne Thunder participant and sponsor since it began 17 years ago. For the past seven years, he has sponsored the event’s Thursday welcome party at the Boyne Mountain Resort. That celebration eventually outgrew its small venue at the top of a chairlift, so now it happens in a large banquet room with a fine outdoor patio and a great view of the mountain.

“We started with 50-plus people at the party in our first year and now we’re up to 400 or 500,” he said. “Right now at least, we’re still planning on coming out guns-a-blazing with the party and the poker run, but we’ll know for sure next month.”

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