Stu Jones, the founder and owner of the Florida Powerboat Club in Pompano Beach, Fla., said today that he can’t remember using the words “sold out” for any of his outfit’s poker runs. But he’s using them now in reference to the upcoming Miami Boat Show/Islamorada Poker Run. With just more than 70 boats on the roster, Jones said he and his staff have closed registration for the event, which happens Feb. 21-24.
“It good statement to have to make and it’s a painful statement to have to make at the same time, but we are sold out for the Miami Boat Show Poker Run,” said Jones. “We’d love to be able to say yes to everyone, but saying yes isn’t always a good thing. We are a business, and we have to come to grips with the fact that we have our hands full with this event. There are times in the past where I probably should have said an event was sold out and I didn’t, and it created bad experiences for our members and our staff. Not this time.”
According to Jones, the crucial limiting factors in the Miami Boat Show Poker are dockage and lodging. Compounding the docking shortage is that high-performance powerboat’s have become larger and larger in recent years.
“In the marina at Holiday Isle, I used to be able to put four 38-foot V-bottoms in one slip,” said Jones. “Now, it could be one 52-foot MTI cat and one 42-foot Cigarette center console for one of our members. Outside the seawall, I used to be able to have eight rows of five boats rafted off. Now, because the boats are so much bigger, I can have six rows of five boats rafted off. It really comes down to a matter of simple arithmetic and spatial management. The boats have gotten bigger, but the spaces we need to accommodate them have not.
“Could I take more registrations now?” Jones continued. “Sure, but I can’t put anyone anywhere near Holiday Isle and the Post Card Inn, where everything happens. The other thing I can’t do is say, ‘We don’t have dock space but you can do the run and have your truck and trailer brought down so you can pull your boat out of the water,’ because there simply isn’t space for the rigs at Holiday Isle. The entire thing is maybe a half-mile wide and there isn’t some massive parking area there.”
Jones said the customer experience, as well as the load on his own staff, drove him to close registration for the event. If space opens up, the club will announce it through their website and others. At this point, however, that remains unlikely.
“I don’t want anyone to go home with a bad experience, not the members of the club and not our staff,” he said. “Everyone needs to feel that they had a good time. And if we spend all our time focusing on where we are going to fit this person’s boat or how we are going to get that person a hotel room, we can’t pay complete to attention to all the other aspects of the run and properly look out for the well being of all the people who attend. We are in a position to mitigate issues by managing and controlling the event ahead of time.”
Ahead of time—those are words would-be participants in the Miami Boat Show Poker Run should keep in mind with all of the club’s events, Jones suggested, especially this time of year.
“If there is a message in all of this, it’s that people need to understand that this is our high season in this area,” he said. “We could be a cruise ship that is sold out. We could be a resort hotel that is sold out for the Miami Boat Show. Just like an aircraft, there is a maximum capacity. You can’t put people on the wing or have them standing in the aisles.
“Those who understand the system make their reservations with us well in advance—we need them two or three months in advance,” Jones added. “If they want to try to two to three weeks in advance, we’ll do what we can but they’re taking their chances.”