Running from Miami to Key West is never the same twice, but this time of year high winds along the way—and at the final destination—are not uncommon. But blustery conditions that prevailed during all four days of the Florida Powerboat Club Spring Key West Poker Run two weekends ago didn’t faze the event-record-setting 37 registered poker-run teams and keep them from making the most of their trip to the city at the end of the road.
Richard Hartz of Connecticut ran his new 38 Fountain Sport Console in the event—and it earned him the club’s Best Center Console award. Photos courtesy/copyright of the Florida Powerboat Club.
Still, it did require Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones, his crew and all the participants to stay nimble. When those winds nixed their meticulous plans to make the 72-mile, Friday fun run to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, they pivoted and found another destination for the day—Boca Grande.
“In addition to Fort Jefferson, there’s an amazing snorkeling reef off Dry Tortugas,” said Jones. “The club had gone to great lengths to secure the permit and liability insurance. But sadly, none of could be utilized due to unsatisfactory boating conditions.
“But were able to secure a new destination in paradise where our members could beach and enjoy the day,” he continued. “It happens to be part of the United States National Park Refuge, which means it is closely watched by federal park rangers. Our club members were careful to follow the guidelines set forth by federal officers in previous years, and it was a wonderful afternoon rendezvous.”
Enjoy more images from the Florida Powerboat Club Spring Key West Poker Run in the slideshow above.
Those conditions persisted through Saturday, but that didn’t stop some of the more-adventurous members of the group from making day trips to Woman Key and Snipes Point. But for those who stayed closer to home, simply hanging out with fellow club members in Key West was entertainment enough in advance of Saturday night’s awards dinner under an 80-foot tent outside the Conch Republic Seafood Company.
“We played out the poker hands with three teams winning a prizes,” said Jones. “The best hand went to Bryan Houtchens of California, who owns a 42-foot MTI catamaran. As luck would have it, his only other appearance with the club was about four years ago for the Miami Boat Show Poker Run—and he also had the best poker hand. Some people just have all the luck.”
For Jones and the Florida Powerboat Club crew, the highpoint of the event happened during Thursday’s lunch stop at Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar on the way to Key West. Upon arrival at the popular FPC venue, which hosted its inaugural Miami Boat Show Poker Run Exhibit last month, they were greeted by members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
One of the club’s most energetic and enthusiastic members, New York’s Michael Tandoi enjoyed the event in his 40-foot Skater dubbed Out of Control.
But law enforcement was on scene “for all the right reasons,” Jones said, then laughed.
“Just three weeks earlier during the Miami Boat Show Poker Run at Gilbert’s, I announced we were raising money for local charities as part of that event,” he said. “With a matching contribution from Gilbert’s Resort, we were able to donate $10,000 to the Special Olympics of Florida. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey was there to accept the donation.”
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