Everybody knows about big powerboat poker runs like Desert Storm and Key West, but switch out the sand and palm trees for the clean, cool waters of Northwest Michigan and the rich smell of pine trees, and you've got the great Northern poker run...Boyne Thunder. We headed up there after work on Friday night and jumped off I-75 at Gaylord for a solid night's sleep before heading over to Boyne City bright and early Saturday to watch the 40+ boats head out across Lake Charlevoix.
As a tradition, the boats (in two groups) circle around the lake on a high-speed parade lap before heading west toward Charlevoix -- and the hundreds of spectators gathered on the point roared their approval as each boat gunned its engines on the pass-by.
The boats then head down the lake, through Round Lake at Charelvoix, then out the channel to Lake Michigan and the other card stops. The weather was just about perfect; warm and sunny, with little wind--which made the big lake manageable for some high speed runs and lots of fun. We drove up to Charlevoix for a few beers, caught a few more nice boats heading up the channel, then gradually worked our way back toward Boyne City right after noon. We even had a chance to grab a bite at the Horton Bay General Store, which any Ernest Hemingway fan would recognize from his Nick Adams stories.
The final card stop was at the marina at Somerset Pointe, featuring a very nice reception which offered visitors a chance to catch the boat crews coming in for some snacks and ice cold refreshments. We weren't sure how they were going to fit everyone in, but they managed to get the crews off the boats and into the bar with a high level of organization. Clearly, this run benefits greatly from a wonderful team of volunteers, who managed it all superbly. Hats off to them.
We wanted to stay longer for the Thunder Feast that evening, but the wife and I had another stop to make on that day's itinerary, and over a 100 miles to travel before nightfall. Suffice to say that as before, we had a short but albeit wonderful time at Boyne Thunder, and look forward to coming back again. If you're an offshore powerboater who loves great poker runs and is looking for something a little different, this is one run you will want to add to your calendar next year.