With 250 registered boats and enough poker hands on the table to combine for a $40,000 pot, the grand finale of the 2023 Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run kicked off yesterday evening to a packed house at the Conch Republic Seafood Company for the traditional dinner celebration, card play and awards presentation in Key West, Fla. The party even spilled into the adjacent Poker Run Village and later to the wilds of Duval Street for those who kept going.
Florida Powerboat Club members used every inch of available dock space at Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar in Key Largo on Thursday. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
Now most of the boats at the Conch Republic sponsor docks are gone and the once bustling Poker Run Village is empty. Such is the scene when the annual Florida Powerboat Club circus leaves town.
Just three days ago, the final wave of boats—some 140 by the count of Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones—arrived in Key West. And of the three departure waves—both chronicled here—Thursday’s was the most challenging in terms of fleet- and individual-boat sizes.
This Performance Powerboats P-420 cut a pretty swath on its way to Key West.
“The Florida Powerboat Club members and our staff did a great job, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen our Gilbert’s lunch stop in Key Largo that jammed with boats,” Jones explained. “It’s clearly the result of a trend toward larger and beamier center consoles we’re seeing. I think the time has come to rethink how we manage lunch stops and possibly move to a reserved docking program in the future.”
Still putting the final touches on the 2023 Key West run, Jones has not come up with a definite solution for the lunch stop log-jam created by larger vessels in full-capacity events.
Enjoy more action from the Thursday Florida Powerboat Club trek to Key West.
“It could be something very structured with nine rows of boats, 10 reserved slips and 10 more reserve slips in the back basin of Gilbert’s,” he mused. “Every row would have an assigned list of boats that can be tied up in any order, but that’s your row and that’s where you go. Unregistered boats will be asked to move along.
“The other thing we could do is rent the docks on the other side of the harbor at The Anchorage and run a pontoon shuttle-boat to bring those club members to Gilbert’s,” he added.
Whatever the solution, Jones said, the show is sure to go on in 2024.
Once upon a time, this beautiful 52-foot MTI catamaran was one of the biggest boats in Florida Powerboat Club fleets. Now it’s one of many big boats in FPC fleets.
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