With clear skies, warm temperatures and great boating conditions along the scenic St. Johns River, Jacksonville Poker Run participants really couldn’t have had it any better. Earlybirds were treated to a Friday Fun Run, which traveled through the Port of Jacksonville to Nippers, a popular waterfront restaurant in Jacksonville Beach, with a Caribbean-inspired menu and friendly staff.
Friday evening the group assembled at the Hyatt Jacksonville Riverfront, where participants and local volunteers got together for a safety meeting and friendly social mixer. Most of the weekend activities were focused around the Jacksonville Landing, however a handful of participants took advantage of the river water taxi to hop over to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or River City Brewing company for a change of pace.
Saturday morning, the group rose to a second day of perfect weather, with lighter winds and ideal conditions for all size boats. Indeed, the crews on board the small pack of single engine boats that included a 22 Donzi, 23 Baja and 24 Excalibur were extremely happy with the lucky hand Mother Nature dealt on the weather!
The 2013 poker run course was modified only slightly, to reduce the number of less-visited checkpoints and make it generally easier for participants to get in all the stops. The first card at Jacksonville Landing along with the 10:45 start, were both executed on time and with near-military precision. Bill Pyburn Jr. eased the Hi-performance fleet up to plane with slow and careful precision, so as not to create a jerky or frantic start.. Instead, the boats all accelerated smoothly and it made for a great aerial photo sequence from John Woodruff’s Jet Ranger helicopter.
After the Whitey’s Fish Camp checkpoint, the group headed to Outback Crab Shack along Six Mile Creek…where a large fleet of specator boats awaited. The 1300 foot dock presented no challenges, as the fleet was soon rafted up and participants in the restaurant getting their orders placed. Massive platters of boiled seafood and southern BBQ were soon circulating and hundreds of buttery fingers ploughed through crab legs, peel and eats and giant succulent ribs.
After a low flying buzz from Windship which had just returned from fueling, it was a quick reminder to round up the crew and get back on the river. Mike Sanz provided a third checkpoint platform from his 39 Cigarette Top Fish GT, where Bosnian model Emina handed out the card from the camera-equipped poker card pole. (cant wait to see those cools shots!)
Next stop….Ortega Landing along the Ortega Creek, where participants were greeted by dock-hands and poolside hospitality! Several participants cooled off in the pool and enjoyed the first class facilities for well over an hour, before heading back to the Metro Park Marina and their home ports. With plenty of daylight remaining, a number even went to the boat ramp and got their equipment loaded for an easy departure the next day. By early Saturday evening, a long row of tow rigs with boats-in-tow, lined up in front of the Jacksonville Hyatt for a cool & colorful powerboat showcase that was enjoyed by eager on-lookers.
By 8pm Saturday, the Fionn MacCools party was up and running, with live cover band Something Distant rocking out the tunes and a first class dinner being enjoyed by all. The brilliant blue Main Street bridge overhead provided a scenic backdrop to this pleasant venue and a cool vibe prevailed. Perhaps it was a common feeling that they had just enjoyed a blissful day of near-perfection, that may have motivated our participant’s spirit of giving. Fund-raising efforts lasted barely thirty minutes, and yielded impressive results. Special thanks to all the donors who made generous donations, including George Argyros, Jim Lee, and John Woodruff.
Launching the proceeds over the top, Mark & Eileen Fischer from Offleaseonly.com agreed to match the sum of all donations, bringing the total to just under $ 22,000 for Camp Amigo. This was an incredible result for an event with relatively small attendance, and speaks volumes about the generosity of Florida Powerboat Club members!
Thanks to all who attended and to all of our generous charity supporters!
Florida Powerboat Club