After a four-year absence from organizing a poker run in Fort Myers, Fla., the Florida Powerboat Club returned to the area last weekend for an event that attracted 35 boats and was based at the famed Pink Shell Resort on Fort Myers Beach and nearby Salty Sam’s Marina. Given the club’s time away from the area and marginal weekend weather forecast, FPC president Stu Jones said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

fpcfortmyers 07

Participants in last weekend’s FPC Fort Myers Poker Run were treated to two days on the water in the area. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“I thought we’d have two dozen boats and call it a day,” he said. “We had 10 more than that. Everyone raved. Everyone loved the Pink Shell Resort."

On Thursday, FPC staffers and several participants in town early for the weekend were treated to a tour of Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, which is based in Fort Myers. Nor-Tech principal Trond Schou and production manager Heinrik Margard guided the group through the plant for almost three hours, according to Jones.

“That was a treat and a really nice way to start the weekend,” said Jones. “And Nor-Tech also was kind enough to provide us with a 42 Monte Carlo sportboat and a 39-foot center console as support boats for the weekend.”

The following afternoon, Jones and the building fleet for Saturday’s poker run headed north on what he called “a recon mission fun run” for participants from outside the Fort Myers area, which is notorious for its sandbars and shallow water. Jones said that the outing enabled participants to get a “GPS footprint” that would increase their comfort level for the following day’s greater-distance event. The group ended the day with lunch, which led into a late-afternoon happy hour at Bootleggers Waterfront Barbecue at Salty Sam’s Marina.

For more images from the event, check out the slideshow above.

The FPC welcome party and captains’ meeting followed that evening.

“We had 80 chairs in the captains’ meeting and every one of them was taken,” said Jones. “That illustrates to me that people do respect our program. They could have been down in the bar having a drink, but the they chose to come up to the meeting with their crews.”

Saturday morning saw a significant but slow-moving storm system to the south in the Naples area, but that didn’t stop the fleet from heading out for the poker run. Card stops on the way to lunch at the Eagle Grill (“What a fancy place with great food,” said Jones) included the Tween Waters Inn on Sanibel Island and the Boca Grande Marina. But Jones said the highpoint of the day, was a post-lunch visit to Useppa Island.

“That was all set up by George and Shannon Argyros, who have a home there and are very active members of the club,” said Jones. “They couldn’t make it to the run, but they made arrangements for dockage at the marina for us and hosted cocktails at the Tarpon Bar. They also had free golf carts available to us so we could tour the island, which we did. We were there for about an hour and a half.

“During the last 10 minutes of the run back to the Pink Shell, the rain came,” he continued. “But by the time we got to the marina, it stopped."

The FPC poker run hands were played during the awards banquet at the Pink Shell Resort that evening. 

"When we started playing the cards, there were a few people who didn’t think they could play because their boats had broken and they couldn’t make the run," said Jones. "One of them was John Lasky, who has a 36-foot Apache that broke on Friday. He thought he was ineligible to play but we told him, ‘No way, you signed up. Things happen, boats break. You absolutely get to play.’ And he ended up winning.”

Joining longtime FPC sponsors Deep Impact, Midnight Express and Nor-Tech for the Fort Myers event was Marine Technology, Inc., as MTI national sales manager Tim Gallagher brought one of the company’s 42-foot high-performance center consoles as a demo ride for a couple of prospective buyers. Given that the FPC and MTI now have separate events sharing the same venue following the Miami International Boat Show, the relationship between the club and the Wentzville, Mo.-based high-performance powerboat builder could reasonably be described as somewhat “cool.” But in Fort Myers at least, there appeared to be a warming trend.

“I told Tim that being there represented an incredible sponsor opportunity,” Jones said, then chuckled. “Tim agreed, so at the eleventh hour MTI became a manufacturing sponsor for the event.”

fpcfortmyers 01

Stu Jones, Trond Schou and others weathered the hardships of working a card-stop boat with new twin FPC event staff members Emilia and Krystyna—“the Chicago twins” on board a Nor-Tech 42 Monte Carlo sportboat (click image to enlarge).

Related stories
Image of the Week: Perfect Pair
Image of the Week: Quite A Lady.