In 1988 son of Leland and Grace, Kenn McKinney, and wife Shelly McKinney chose to relocate their family to Lake Havasu and began working for them.
In 1990 the tour boat operation next to our boat rental dock went out of business. Leland McKinney made a deal to lease that dock and a 25-passenger twin engine jet boat named the Nautigal. He hired a captain and we were now in the tour boat business primarily doing scenic and historic tour through the Topock Gorge and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. At one point in time an operation across the channel with two 48 passenger boats quickly offered to sell out. They were now running 3 boats and all the tours narrated live by the captain.
In 1992 The Chemehuevi Indian Tribe need a ferry service between Lake Havasu City and Havasu Lake, California. Leland purchased a 49-passenger boat and went into service operating three trips a day for six months. The Chemehuevi Indian Tribe opened a casino and at that point the ferry was traveling every two hours from 8:00 am until midnight. Eventually, this trip started departing every hour on the hour. Leland and Kenn McKinney handled the maintenance on all the boats while Grace McKinney kept the books, rented boats, cleaned boats, and booked tours. Wife Shelly McKinney and mother in-law to Kenn McKinney, Marcia LaPointe, both worked as deck hands. Father in-law to Kenn McKinney, Fred La Pointe was one of their boat captains.
Along the way a small piece of property came up for sale next to the docks they were leasing. Leland and Grace purchased this property in 1992. A small ticket booth and boarding area was built, and boat docks were installed. A short time later they parted ways with their other dock leases along with their rental boats and one of the 48 passenger boats. Their focus was now on the ferry operation and the Topock Gorge Tours.
In 1996 Leland ordered a 47 ft. 49 passenger Fully in closed climate controlled custom built three engine jetboat. This boat took on a futuristic look and it was named The Starship 2010. This is the vessel that is still use today. With the purchase of the Starship 2010 Leland decided to part ways with the remaining 48 passenger tour boat.
Also In 1996, the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe decided to build their own ferry boat. The Tribe continued to lease dock space from Leland and Grace McKinney for several years as well as buying the 49-passenger boat that had been running as the ferry boat.
In 1999 Kenn McKinney received his captains license and became the captain of the Starship 2010. Over the years all four of Kenn’s kids worked as deckhands at one point. Wife Shelly McKinney also filled in when needed.
Leland and Grace McKinney retired in 2006 and bought their dream property in Oregon and built a home.
Kenn and Shelly McKinney are still running the Starship 2010 up through Topock Gorge.
Blue Water Jet Boat Tours has been an evolution of different boats with different uses. They are still operating about 100 yards away from where Leland and Grace McKinney started in 1986. They have met people from all over the world. Their operation has been hired to work for events, movies and TV shows. At the core they have remained a family business and hope that it continues this way. Even some of Kenn and Shelly’s grandkids think they want to be captains one day of the Starship 2010.