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Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run At 270 Boats Despite Uncommon Attrition

Just one week ago, 280 Florida Powerboat Club members had registered for the next week’s Key West Poker Run, the organization’s signature event. As of now and not likely to change according to club president Stu Jones, the count stands at 270 boats. Jones is currently driving the through the Florida Keys—he’ll end up in Key West and return home later this week—for his final check on lunch-stop and dockage accommodations for the run.

Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones is in the Florida Keys this week finalizing details in person for next week’s Key West Poker Run. Photo from the 2020 Florida Powerboat Club by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

Though Jones, who is constantly adjusting numbers up and down for the event until this week, expected a big turnout he’s been surprised by pre-event attrition.

“We have had over 30 cancellations in the past four weeks from members whose boats weren’t ready for one reason or another,” he said. “It’s the highest level of cancellations we’ve ever experienced. At one point, we were up to 280 boats but with cancellations and confirmations we’re now solid at 270 boats.”

Driving to Key West the week before the poker run is a longstanding practice for Jones. On his way down, he’ll stop by the club’s three lunch-stop locations—Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar, Sundowner and the Faro Blanco Resort—to make those venues have his final meal numbers, revisit the dockage plan with each dockmaster and more to ensure that all lunch stops for the Wednesday and Thursday departure waves go smoothly.

Once he arrives in Key West, he’ll also meet with the dockmasters at every marina venue where his club members have been assigned space for their boats. Meeting with all of the club’s vendors in person the week before the event, he explained, is essential.

By the time the card hands are played, Florida Powerboat Club president Stu Jones will have most of his work behind him. Photo from the 2019 FPC Key West Poker Run by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“There are some things you just can’t do by the phone or email,” Jones said. “I need to meet with every dockmaster. Sometimes I can help them once I see the arrangement they have in mind—we can shuffle boats to find more space, and we always need to find more space. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve found that nothing else really works than meeting with each of them the week before the run. We’re going to Key West with 270 boats so we need to know we have dock space for 270 boats.”

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