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Old 03-11-2008, 07:11 PM
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Question AMAZING Launch Just An Hour From Florida



JP, a commercial helicopter pilot and active kiter had an idea. To rent a plane for a day and run over to a great destination in the Bahamas for some prime riding. Sure sounded good to me. As you have control over your arrival and departure times you can maximize your time on the water better than with normal commercial connections. He picked an island with the airstrip very close to the launch and riding area, Great Harbour Cay in the northern Berry Islands. It was just about an hour away. Despite the closeness and relative ease of a crossing in fair weather without problems the unexpected will sometimes happen. JP has been flying various aircraft through the Bahamas, down the Antilles and into South America for a long time which is a comfort.



Getting the plane out of bed for the hop over to the islands. For this first trip, JP and myself were joined by Carlos, another active kiter from Miami.



JP, Rick and Carlos strapped in for the crossing. The flight took a little more than an hour with fair weather and good flying conditions.



"X" marks the spot
From: Lady Brassey. "In the Trades, the Tropics, and the Roaring Forties" London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1885



You can see a cruise ship off in the distance off of Little Stirrup Cay at the northern end of the Berry Islands on Northwest Providence Channel. They changed the perfectly good name to something more "evocative and touristy?" Like Cayo Fudge uh, Chocolate Island? Nope not it, what did the ad spin doctors come up with?



Coming in on the bay by the airstrip. The island has limited development having been privately owned until the recent past.



It is amazing what you can fit inside a Cessna 182. Good thing too!



We land, unload, clear customs and head on over to the beach. It is only about 800 ft. from the plane to the kite launch.







Setup right in front of the restaurant with little traffic around. They make good conch fritters and sandwiches there.







A panoramic image of the Bay. Click the photo for full sized image.




Carlos walks into position to have at it



Having some fun now! Winds were SSE about 14 kts. Not nuking but then again you don't want blasting winds to create a hazardous crosswind landing situation particularly on a single engine prop job



Riding over to your own private deserted island off the bay



Sea Eggs on the beach there



Lunch break and back to the beach for more riding




There is a real interesting riding feature off to the SE of the Bay. Thinking that not many kiters may have hit this launch before, I named this pond-like area in honor of our intrepid pilot, JP. Some of the locals may know the area as Bajito but don't think they kite, yet, so I like JP's Pond better.



A 180 degree + view of JP's Pond (click photo for larger image)


JP's Pond is just off to the SE along the bay. It is a series of shallow sand shoals bounded by a necklace of rocks seaward to the southeast with islands to the north and south. Wind can be funneled between the two land masses boosting wind speed a bit. The water can be very shallow and calm depending upon the tide. There is a small tributary leading off inland to the SSW. Wonder if it gets a bit sharky at times. I only saw one small one myself and near dead low tide. Waves were light during our visit but I suspect you can get swells outside the island to the east of the Pond with winds from the northeast to east to southeast. This Bay seems to be rideable with winds from north to southeast. The bay immediately to the north is likely good for winds northwest to north to east to southeast. And south of the Bay, that stretch looks good for north to east to south-southeast. If you have a boat or ground transportation likely wind from all directions opens up to you.



A look eastward towards the edge of the Pond


You can checkout realtime winds on the island at:
http://greatharbourcayinfo.com/weather.htm
More about the island at:
http://www.consultresearch.com/GHC2.htm#F






It's been great but need to head back before it gets too late




JP gets ready to mount up



Running down the airstrip to head back to Florida






The sea egg island across the Bay from the launch



Heading over to the west side of the island



North Bimini changes



Passing over the Straits and one of the Funships



Flying over Key Biscayne with a look up the coast



Looking down upon the guys riding at Matheson in pretty light winds



Home again, Captain JP returns to nest safe and sound



JP at the stick of the helicopter in his job as a pilot for Camera Copters, http://www.cameracopters.com/. Lots of interesting work all over the USA. That van carries the chopper, support gear, maintenance setup and more. JP's company is Advanced Aerospace Consultants, Inc.. He is a commercial pilot with rotorcraft, multiengine airplane and instrument ratings with over 5000 hrs of flight time. He provides aviation related consulting services to helicopter operators and provide professional helicopter pilot services. He has experience with aerial photography for print, film and video production, precision survey work with laser mapping systems, photogrammetric mapping and location scouting.

Get this --- In addition to the aerial photo, survey, and consulting work he does, He is considering entering into a joint venture and acquiring a seaplane for the purpose of exploring the inaccessible kiting destinations of the Bahamas and beyond, but in the meantime plans to continue exploring the islands utilizing the numerous landing strips scattered throught the region.



Shades of Jimmy Buffet with his airborne fishing dory, sounds mighty fine!




See you from the Bahamas for now. More island explorations to come ...


.
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Last edited by RickI; 02-07-2011 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:15 PM
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I have some interesting video from the trip as well. Hope to assemble the air, beach and water clips into something intrguing soon.
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:49 AM
neil xrated neil xrated is offline
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Already on it, Chris has his own plane, check it out at http://www.kitesurfusa.com/ghc.html

Cheers Neil
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Old 03-12-2008, 10:57 AM
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500EPILOT 500EPILOT is offline
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Rick, that was definitely a fun trip, thanks for posting the photos!, and yes the seaplane is in the works, once we clear customs, the whole archipelago will be our playground, no need for runways!
JP
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Old 03-12-2008, 11:07 AM
carlos10 carlos10 is offline
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Default Bahamas trip

Thanks Rick for the article and the photos, had a lot of fun and thanks JP.
Hope to do it again..
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Old 03-12-2008, 01:04 PM
Jur Jur is offline
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JP, Rick,

Next time count me in. Looks epic!!!!

A friend of mine, kiteboarder as well, also has an aiplane waiting to be abused for kitetrips, maybe one day we can all team up and do a Miami - Bahama's Airinvasion with three planes, put a tent in the back and drink a couple of yellow ones in the JP pond.

Jur
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:56 PM
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Excellent idea Jur! There are so many cays within a short flight for skilled pilots from Florida. I am not sure how many have a strip so close to the riding grounds though. Let's keep in touch and hopefully put something together one of these days.

Looking at the aerial images I had a feeling the cut between Great Harbour Cay and the next island to the south, Haines Cay, might be sharky. It is a deeper water channel into estuaries connecting to the Bay and open ocean after all. Still not totally sure but just came across the name, "Shark's Creek." Could be a hint? It is too shallow for much to move around at low tide so I would guess tiburons seeking to swim to the north and out into the Bay would have to hit mid or high tide.


From: http://www.consultresearch.com/ghcpass.jpg



A closer look at the Creek

As always, I wouldn't obsess about sharks, just be aware of when they are more common and the likely behaviors they might exhibit at the time if possible. If they are frisky, avoid the area or if just present avoid falling and staying in the water for long.

There is a bit of history to this place. Rockerfeller interests developed the Great Harbour Cay Club here in the 1960's. Cary Grant, Bridget Bardot, the Rat Pack (Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis, etal) bought into the place and frequented it as well. Even Meyer Lansky of the Mob hung out there. In the mid 1970's the club was abandoned by the luminaries.
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Old 03-13-2008, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlos10 View Post
Thanks Rick for the article and the photos, had a lot of fun and thanks JP.
Hope to do it again..

You are welcome Carlos. Hope to see you on another flight over there.

Anyone planning on hitting the Bahamas anytime soon? If so, where to?
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Old 03-14-2008, 09:19 PM
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great job boys! love the pics from the warmth of my cold new england house w/fire going! looks like a good time mini adventure-
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RbGar View Post
great job boys! love the pics from the warmth of my cold new england house w/fire going! looks like a good time mini adventure-
Thanks! The image you convey from your end sounds interesting too. It is hard to even find fireplaces in SE Florida, at least in the newer homes. Hope you have an early spring and/or good times out snow kiting up that way. More to come from the Bahamas.
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