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RickI
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Straits of Florida Crossing ...

Postby RickI » Fri Mar 25, 2005 5:27 pm

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... from Florida to the Bahamas, has anyone done this by kite yet? It's not that far and it could be fun.

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Postby ryansurf1 » Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:18 pm

Yes, that could be interesting....

How far south would you have to start to the south with the current of The Stream?....on a South wind?...the boaters know

What about a honking north wind pulling you against The Stream?....

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Postby hamish1 » Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 pm

Me and niel have been talking about doing it for ages, but on the good days it is to rough for most boats.

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Postby RickI » Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:17 pm

I have wanted to do it for five or six years but haven't gone to the trouble to put together the chase boats, etc. The Straits can be an intense place for waves and current. In setting something up like this it would be good to try to pick the best conditions feasible for such a thing, it isn't a record attempt, just something to do for fun. This as opposed to the Key West to Cuba record crossing which was done in some of the most undesireable, challenging conditions short of a hurricane, conceivable for that route.

In a crossing you would need to allow for the set of the Florida Current, perhaps about 3 kts. when calculating your course. There are Internet resources that provide info on the alignment of the Current and perhaps velocity estimates as well. Compensating for the set of the current would add some miles to your trip but should allow you a landfall say in the Bimini's.

The wind is a tricky proposition. Reliably strong winds in the cooler months are out of the NW and NE. NW is a deal breaker for a more reasonable crossing. Strong winds opposing the fast moving waters of the Current setup nasty, steep and big waves rapidly. If you rode up from the south on a beam reach you would be riding into big, nasty ragged breaking waves across the straits. I piloted a boat back to Florida at 16 in strong NW'ly winds requiring me to surf the boat using the throttles most of the way across in 8 to 12 ft. following choppy breaking seas to avoid broaching or pitchpoling. In a honking strong cold front blasting out NW winds you can see how the horizon goes ragged and foamy over the Florida Current in the distance.

NE can really kick things up too, just not quite as badly as NW. In using a NE wind you would have to ride against the Current, not a first choice.

SE to E are fairly reliable directions in the warmer months. E would be a bad proposition requiring a major offset to the south and riding close hauled. SE would be the direction I would try for. Of course S is even better but not a reliable, long term direction.

Winds away from Florida and the Bahamian plateau can change outside of land effects. This would have to be taken into consideration as well.

Image

If you could pick a day with good SE winds, say around 15 to 20 mph for the width of the Straits, I would say a start off of Ocean Reef or Tavenier in Key Largo might be the ticket. I would have to do the course plotting to see where an ideal starting point might be. Ideally you would have a fairly small number of riders and two to preferrably three boats. One boat would follow the course for the kiteboarders to use for reference with the other one to two as support boats. In the Key West to Cuba crossing the waves and wind were nasty making the boats fairly bad places to be. The speed overground of the kiteboarders was low as well at around 11 kts. I think. Riding in lighter winds out of a direction less prone to kickup an ugly, adverse sea for a fun crossing would make sense.

There would be more to it than this but these are some starting ideas.

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Postby RickI » Sat Mar 26, 2005 12:16 am

Any bluewater sailors out there with boat experience and perspectives on crossing the Straits under kite power out there?

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Postby gumball » Sat Mar 26, 2005 2:19 am

I'm in. Rick, set it up as a charity event, like a "walk-a-thon" ... "kite-a-thon"

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Postby RickI » Sat Mar 26, 2005 2:55 am

gumball wrote:I'm in. Rick, set it up as a charity event, like a "walk-a-thon" ... "kite-a-thon"


That is a good idea Alex. I wanted to put on a kite-a-thon like event along the coast of Palm Beach and/or Broward Counties a while back. Riders would solicit pledges for miles completed with monies going to charity. I thought it would be an incredible photo op for airborne media, etc. along the heavily populated coast of SE Florida. As the wind was particularly light that year it was easy to forget the idea.

For a first go round on a crossing to Bimini, it might be good to limit the number of riders. Given that such an idea might attract some Pros and more advanced riders it might be feasible to increase the number to about 15 or so. We could even hold a coastwise qualifier run or something if interest and winds supported the idea. Perhaps a run from Biscayne Bay south to the starting point or something off Key Largo or wherever the course plot suggests things should kick off from.

Insurance for an organized event would be a problem. In the past the coverage usually would last until International waters and then become void. A causual event might skirt insurance requirements but a more formal benefit ride might need some coverage. I haven't tried to find event coverage for a few months but as of that time it wasn't that easy to find. Would you have any ideas along those lines?

Support boats would be needed but shouldn't be all that hard to sort out particularly with a larger organized event. This could generate some good PR and would be quite a spectacle as well. We would need to move fairly fast in putting this together if it were to come off before next winter. In a normal year the wind shuts down around mid May, plus or minus. Would you want to try to do it before the light summer wind patterns settle in?

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Postby B-rad Lange » Sat Mar 26, 2005 3:07 am

count me in...

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Postby RickI » Sat Mar 26, 2005 3:20 am

B-rad Lange wrote:count me in...


Brad, you have the perfect destination for a coastwise run. I haven't done a course calculation yet but going on a beam reach with a SE wind may require starting pretty far south. It comes down to how long you take to cross. You can assume about 3 nm of displacement northward (plus or minus), for each hour you are underway. I had a look and just going from Jewfish Creek on northern Key Largo to Bimini is about 76 nm. Islamorada to Bimini is about 100 nm. Looking at things a bit harder, a south wind would be ideal to reduce your crossing distance but that isn't a very reliable wind direction for extended periods of time at least in coastal areas. It would be good to avoid tacking I think. Then again, it comes back to your effective speed overground and sea conditions for support craft. We'll have to run the numbers for various courses and wind directions and conditions. If you average 20 kts, hell just go do it. From what I have heard of other distance runs in open water with higher seas, the average speed over ground can be closer to 10 to 15 kts. I would still try to use a wind that keeps the waters of the Florida Current flatter, say SE to S. Otherwise your speed overground will be reduced despite the stronger wind. SW might work but that is a more rare direction again and normally one with lighter winds.

For yet another event, how about launching from Islamorada and doing a circumnavigation of Cay Sal Banks to the south, north of Cuba? I bet you could get some butter inside the pseudo-atoll. It is the triangular shoal area in the Sat. image above between the Keys, Cuba and the Bahamas. You'd have to watchout for Cuban gunboats but it would be an unusual experience. There are arms dumps around the cays from gun runners going back a long time. It is an interesting place.

Image

Double Headed Shot Cay lighthouse on the northern part of Cay Sal Banks
From: http://www.lhdigest.com/

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Postby Neil 1 » Sat Mar 26, 2005 2:34 pm

Been thinking about this for years now, what I would like to do is set up a first kiteboard race. US to Bimini. Free entrance fee but if you enter you must have a support boat and medical insurance. TV and mag coverage, major sponsores. Would like to do it in Nov or Dec in NE 15-20. I know it will be rough but that is all part of it. Try and raise some prize money and have it as an anual event, the first of its kind. Think I am going to start working on it for the fall. Who wants to help? cheers Neil


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