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Boca Chita to Crandon Park Downwinder In Photos!

How about an inter-island downwinder?

Christophe Ribot of Miami Kiteboarding graciously invited me along on a downwinder from Boca Chita Key to Crandon Park on Key Biscayne in Miami, FL. As winds were clocking to east to southeast, we ran to the island to kite back with something like a broad reaching breeze. Winds were around 15 to 20 mph for much of the run. Seas were light given that we rode inside the Florida Reef Track for much of the way.

Five of us were on the downwinder including left to right, Jay, Christophe, our Captain Alan, Para, Maryanne and myself. We're shown here in the harbor on the island.

The distance as the crow flies is about 12 miles from Google Earth but I understand Jay measured 27 miles on his GPS for the overall run.

The island was owned by Mark Honeywell of Honeywell Corporation in the 1940's. He constructed several of the quarried rock structures including the lighthouse. The lighthouse reportedly was never placed into operation as it was never properly registered as an official aid to navigation. Boca Chita literally translated means "quiet bay." Well, it is pretty calm in there, outside of hurricanes anyway. More about the more recent history of the island at:

After some maneuvering in the strong cut current, the boat is anchored. Christophe demonstrates the kiter recall horn.

Walking the gear ashore to rig up and launch. Alan carries a dive cylinder in which he used for inflating the kites for us.

Rigging up

The key seems very far away and shares quite a bit in aspect with some of the Bahamian out islands. Still, look north and you can see the Miami skyline in the distance. The pelicans seem indifferent to that however.

Christophe gives me a launch. I am carrying to GoPro cameras, one on my helmet and another mounted on my kite.

A kite view of the lighthouse, camp ground and our boat along the north end of the island.

Tacking out off to the south of the island

I rode a 2011 13 m Crossbow which was a great choice with a wide wind range and particularly good low end. The wind ebbed about the time we hit Crandon.

Popping a small jump around the cut.

Chrisophe walking his long skegged raceboard through the shallows. Those things do kick butt particularly in light winds but you need to watch your depth!

Going to sea but land is always visible in the distance, frequent islands and sandbars along the way. Also, Capt. Alan in our trusty chaseboat is on our "6" ready to help as needed.

Gang is all here and making northward. Christophe takes the lead while Alan trails the group with the boat ready to assist as needed. Both are in radio contact with one another and all the kiters received a safety briefing on procedures, rescue, recovery, etc..

The goes Para

A look south down the Ragged Keys towards Boca Chita.

And to the north

We stopped at a sandbar along the way, taking our time tacking back and forth to stretch things out. There were frequent shallows along a good portion of the run. I thought the pace was pretty easy going as it was a pleasure run after all and for fun.

That is Jay in the red hat following Para with Christophe's kite easing up into the frame.

There is Christophe running up on Marianne I think.

Jay rips along beneath

Para moves out

Marianne rides on as I pass over Alan and the chase boat.

So, that's a look at the first part. I need to go over the images from the rest of the run and add a few more photos. Also, I have a video to put together as well. So, stay tuned ...

Thanks for a great run Christophe and Miami Kiteboarding!

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Posted: March 8, 2011 at 12:15 PM
By: John Bryja

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