Rock the Coast, put on by the West Michigan Offshore Powerboat Club, begins Friday night with more than 60 boats on display at Grand Haven’s Municipal Marina.
The rally (it’s not a race) leaves Grand Haven shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday, heading to Holland for lunch at Boatwerks Restaurant.
“We have 140 boats signed up,” said West Michigan Offshore’s Derek Powers. “Municipal Marina has blocked off the entire marina for us, and we’ll have approximately 60 boats that will be there, coming in Friday afternoon. We’ll have a dock party, and people can stroll the docks and see the boats.”
Powers explained that boats will stage in three groups, based on their speed. The first group, which will gather in front of North Shore Marina, will include boats that top out at 55 mph. The second group, which will stage in front of the beach just past the Musical Fountain, will feature boats that run from 55-75 mph. The last group, boats that run faster than 75 mph, will gather in front of the power plant.
“One of the fastest boats we have will go 160,” Powers said. “A majority of them run in the 70-80 mph range. That’s a typical boat.”
Powers said the boats measure from 24 up to 52 feet long.
As soon as the first group of boats exits the pier heads at about 9:45 a.m., they’ll turn south and head for Holland. Because the next two groups of boats are faster, they’ll first turn north and run almost 15 miles to Muskegon, then turn and head south to Holland. They will exit the channel in eight-minute increments.
“As soon as we get to the end of the pier, we take off, and people should be able to get a real good view from the pier, or even the beach,” Powers said.
He noted that the boats that head north should be coming back past Grand Haven at about 10:15 a.m.
Powers explained that this isn’t a race or a poker run — there’s nothing at stake other than putting on a good show and having a good time.
“It’s a fun run,” he said. “It’s just a fun time to get everyone together, raise money for charity, go have lunch at Boatwerks, then raft off and tell stories. It’s a family organization. You’ll see a lot of kids on the boats.”
The West Michigan Offshore Powerboat Club has donated nearly $25,000 this year to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This weekend’s event is not a major fundraiser — those take place earlier in the year in the form of a golf outing and a season kickoff party.
The weather forecast for this weekend isn’t promising, with a 70 percent chance of precipitation Friday night and a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Powers said all he can do is cross his fingers and hope for good weather.
“It’s a gamble,” he said. “We have hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars invested in an event, but it’s a crapshoot. Two-footers (waves) are about as much as the smaller boats want to handle. Once you get up to 4-footers, that’s all the bigger boats can handle.”
For more information, visit www.westmichiganoffshore.com.