There’s more fun when there’s more than one. This is the foundation on which Stu Jones, president of the Florida Powerboat Club (FPC), Inc, has built his Pompano Beach, Florida-based organization. Today, more than 500 active and 5000 alumni members cruise together across South Florida waters and beyond in a number of annual events. There’s no need to own the biggest or fastest boat. Camaraderie rather than the need for speed is the primary goal. This means power boaters – singles, couples and families — on all classes of craft – high performance, performance and sport boat — can join in the fun.
“There is a definite surge toward the ‘group setting’,” says Jones, a Canadian native who fell in love with Florida in his teens and has worked in the state’s marine industry for a number of years. “Boaters are social people and it seems they like to take part in events where they can meet others.”
The FPC’s events are basically ‘poker’ and/or fun runs. Some are short weekend events hosted in a single location, while others are multi-day adventures offering aggressive boating agendas that may involve hundreds of miles of boating to an exotic destination. Entry fees for a poker run usually range from $650 to $750 for the boat entry, which includes a turn-key package where all organizational details and logistics, catered functions and parties are included. All events are based around Florida venues from the Keys to the Panhandle. There are also several events to destinations outside of Florida.
This year, the FPC’s two-part Bimini Black Jack series, set for June 10 – 12 and September 23 – 25, comes on the heels of Resorts World Bimini’s acquisition and investment of millions of dollars in the hotel and its expansion on the island.
“We met last fall with a management group comprised of senior managers from IGY Marinas and Resorts World Bimini, and the concept of shorter, 3-day runs to Bimini, was well received by our FPC members. After all, it’s only 57 miles to Bimini from Port Everglades, and most of the powerboats in the Club can get there in less than an hour. Of course, it goes without saying, that a resort that offers gambling and gaming of sorts, has a natural synergy with a powerboat club that focuses the theme of its events on an imaginary game of poker. So, I re-invented the concept of the Black Jack Series. The idea at the heart of the series concept is to engage would-be participants to attend not just one, but more likely two runs, and take advantage of the Bahamas Government incentives to have boaters return within 90 days of their first visit, and not have to pay a second Bahamas entry fee for the local cruising permit.”
Prior to the Black Jack Series, FPC is hosting its first ever Havana Challenge Poker Run May 16 – 19.
“What we intend to do is make our first Cuba run an exhibition of sorts to comply with guidelines established by Washington’s OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control), the federal authority on all travel related outings by Americans to Cuba. Participation will be limited to approximately 20 boats and less than 150 participants. Our intended destination will be Hemingway Marina and we hope to accommodate members in Havana hotels. However, it may be that it’s the owners of larger cruisers and yachts with sleeping quarters on board that can best take advantage of the many Cuban marinas that have rolled out the welcome mats to the American boating public,” says Jones.
Closer to home, Jones says the real fun of powerboating from South Florida is the amazing number of unique destinations reachable in just a few hours.
“At an average cruising speed of 75 mph, you can leave Fort Lauderdale, do lunch in Key Largo and be back for dinner. Or, be in Key West in two and a half hours. It’s common to chart 250 miles a day with these boats. Cruising the expansive Atlantic coastal waters is the final frontier with essentially no limits! When you mix raw speed into this equation, simply name your destination, point the boat, stick the throttles forward…and go!!”
For more information on the FPC, visit: http://flpowerboat.com