This month’s 16th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan was my first, and I really have to gives props to speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden for making it happen. A longtime friend, Boden hooked me up with his friend, Bob Mathers, the owner of Bob Mathers Ford in Boyne City, Mich., who is among the primary organizers of the Boyne City Street Party on Friday night before the poker run. He set me up to participate in the street party and got me an official entry into the poker run event. Once that was alligned, I made plans to be there.
Boyne Thunder Poker Run first-timer Devin Wozencraft caught Tyler Tschida chilling out in his father’s Outerlimits catamaran during the 2019 event earlier this month (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Devin Wozencraft/Wozencraft Insurance Agency.
I found a cool little cottage on the shore of Lake Charlevoix to set up home base for the week. The owners of the cottage were so happy to have us “racers,” as they called us, staying in town. I told them a few times that we were poker runners and not racers, but I guess racers sounded more exciting to them.
To kick things off, the Boyne Thunder Poker Run participants in town (meaning most of us) headed to the Boyne Mountain Resort—the host hotel for the event—for the annual Thursday evening kickoff party sponsored by American Custom Marine. With Boyne Mountain as a backdrop, the party was a hit and it gave me the chance to renew old acquaintances and make a few new ones.
On Friday, we were invited by our friends at Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats to join them for a breakfast run to Bay Harbor, Mich. In contrast to Thursday’s wildly rough conditions on Lake Michigan, the lake was calm and made for a delightful—and swift—trip to Bay Harbor.
Participants Burton and Yvette Kirsten of Michigan struck a pose during the welcome party.
That night, the street party ended up being much larger than anticipated. There were thousands of participants and we were set up right in the middle of it all right next to the Mercury Racing booth, which was exciting. The organizers even put out a set of stairs and a platform for participants to walk up and look inside our 30-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran. (Given how much time the boat has spent on the road this summer, I was sure glad I had it all spruced up.)
Saturday was poker run day—and the hardware was off the charts. I have never seen so many 46-foot Skaters at one event. I think there were at least seven of them, as well as an assortment of other awesome boats of all flavors and colors.
One of our customers, Erik Brekenfelder, who owns a 28-foot Skater, joined my daughter, Leilani, and I for the Saturday run. Heading through Lake Charlevoix in our group at 55 mph was great as there were many spectator boats along the way cheering us on.
Check out the slideshow above for images from stop No. 6 on the Wozencraft World Tour.
But when we reached the town of Charlevoix, I was blown away. More than a 1,000 people lined up along both sides of the inlet to Lake Michigan and we felt like rock stars. I have never seen this level of community participation at any boating event.
Lake Michigan lived up to its reputation as it was a bit rough heading to our first card stop. I don’t think my props have ever spent that much time out of the water. But we made it through and the entire run proved to be a worthwhile adventure in magnificent surroundings. Between the endless dunes, pristine Lake Michigan water and historic lighthouses, the coast of Western Michigan is breathtaking.
While I haven’t set my 2020 summer tour schedule yet, I just may have to make it back to Boyne Thunder next year. And I have Pete Boden to thank for that.
Editor’s note: Devin Wozencraft is the owner and founder the Southern California-based Wozencraft Insurance Agency, which specializes in high-performance powerboat coverage. This is his third article for speedonthewater.com and third season of checking in from his “world tour.”
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