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Fountain 42 Reimagined: Dedicated Owners Take Matters In Their Own Hands

Grateful as I am for every high-performance powerboat I am treated to during events, I have one gentle request for whoever is behind the wheel: Don’t kill me. If you want to impress someone with high-speed passes and aerial antics, find another someone. I’m not trying to eliminate the inherent risks in go-fast boating. I’m just trying to manage them.

Last weekend’s Kuttawa Cannonball Run was the second event for Justin and Melissa Snook, who were joined by friends Clay Oliver and Lou Lee, since they repainted their 42-foot Fountain. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

I first met Justin and Melissa Snook of Mancelona, Mich., through a story I wrote in mid-May 2022 about about their Lake of the Ozarks-based wedding on the deck of their 2009 Fountain 42 Lightning V-bottom called Dead Man’s Hand and met them in person a couple of weeks later at the sixth annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run in Kentucky. After chatting with them a bit, I felt comfortable enough to ride with them on the return leg in last weekend’s Kuttawa event. I was confident they wouldn’t kill me.

And obviously they didn’t.

Instead, they treated me to a delightful ride back to Kuttawa Marina in their twin staggered Mercury Racing 700SCi engine-powered 42-footer. Justin Snook is a skilled, observant, careful and attentive operator. Melissa Snook keeps her head on a swivel, as did their friends, Clay Oliver and Lou Lee, who joined them for the weekend.

Asked how long he’s been driving boats, Snook laughed.

“Since I could walk,” he said. “I built my first boat, a hydroplane, with my grandpa when I was 10 years old. I progressed through bigger and more powerful boats, buying and selling and buying and selling, until I got to where are now with the Fountain.”

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From start to finish, the process took four months.

But as much as the Snooks love their 42-footer, which they bought from Day’s Boats Sales in Frankfort, Ky., they weren’t particularly thrilled with its wrapped graphics. Seven years ago, Justin Snook started Snook’s Quality Collision, which not only handles auto body and paint work but has entered the marine world with fiberglass repair services.

“Owning a body shop, it’s hard to have a boat that’s wrapped,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of wraps.”

The Snooks decided it was time for a new paint job, plus a couple of significant interior updates, in the offseason. So following the Performance Boat Center Fall Fun Run in mid-October, they had the multi-brand, full-service dealership in Osage Beach, Mo., pull and refresh the V-bottom’s supercharged 700-hp engines. Performance Boat Center also refreshed the boat’s Mercury Racing No. 6 drives and later cleaned up its rigging.

Then they hauled the boat back to Michigan.

Melissa Snook was anything but an observer when it came to getting the job done.

Though Snooks Quality Collision has a 6,000-square-foot facility, neither its prep space nor its paint booth are set up to handle a 42-foot V-bottom. So Snook turned to his longtime friend, Sam Brown, who owns Sam’s Marine in the nearby town of Kewadin, and rented space to handle the job.

The couple designed the boat’s new graphics “on a napkin” before translating them into a hand-drawn, color-pencil rendering. Knowing he need a bit more detail and precision to work from, Snook turned to Tyler Blankenship of American Custom Marine in Kimball, Mich.

“Tyler helped me with Adobe Illustrator and we created a computer rendering,” he said.

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Dead Man’s Hand, before (white bottom) and after.

And then the less-glamorous work began. It started with the Snooks pulling the boat’s sun pads and rear bench and sending them to Cover Concepts in Lowell, Mich., for reupholstery. Then they pulled the wrap and uncovered what Justin described as “a hideous paint job,” which also had to be removed.

“We sanded and blocked all the way down to the gelcoat,” Snook recalled. “Then we did the body work. We repaired all the nicks and chips and stress cracks.”

With help from Oliver, they started with the multi-step bottom, which they blueprinted and painted black. From there they moved to the hullsides and finally the deck.

Michigan-based Cover Concepts handled reupholstering the boat’s sun pads and bench seat while the Snooks were painting.

“There are four or five colors involved,” Snook said. “The red is a candy-red over a silver base-coat, which makes for a deep, dark color that pops in the sunlight. Every color has metallic in it including the black and the ‘snow’ white with ‘interstellar’ pearl. On the back, we ghosted the Fountain blade-logo in silver.”

By the time they were finished, they had 366 hours in the project. Asked if he wished had someone else do the work, Snook chuckled. “You know, I did think about that a few times,” he said.

In February, the freshly painted paint beauty arrived at Performance Boat  Center for installation of its engines. Three months later, the boat debuted publicly at the dealership’s Spring Fun Run on Lake of the Ozarks.

Joined by friends, Justin and Melissa Snook (far right) debuted their recently repainted 42-footer in mid-May at the Performance Center Spring Fun Run. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

And a few weeks later, the reimagined Fountain was in the Kuttawa Cannonball Run mix on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. The next major stop for the Snooks with Dead Man’s Hand is the 20th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run, July 7-8, which is a local event for them.

“When we finally got it done, I realized it’s kind of a simple color scheme, though Missy liked it right off the bat,” Snook said. “I wasn’t sure. But then I saw all the attention and compliments it got last weekend in Kuttawa.

“You never know if what you like is what other people are going to like,” he added, then chuckled. “The response was validating and reassuring.”

Dead Man’s Hand wasn’t the only Fountain in the 2023 Kuttawa happening, but it may have turned the most heads.

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