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Columbus Day, Biscayne National Park

the start of kiteboarding, mIami

There is a well known South Florida regatta that takes place each year on Columbus Day Weekend in Biscayne Bay off Miami, Florida. Many “spectators” do not come so much to watch the race but, to party. In fact, the party that takes place along side the regatta (but is in no way sponsored or affiliated with the regatta) is often described as a “floating Mardi Gras”. Drinking and boating, however, don’t mix; and, there are many accidents including deaths surrounding the partying that co-insides with the regatta in years past. The below explains Florida’s Boating Under the Influence Statute as well as the criminal and civil ramifications of drinking and boating.
Want to party this Columbus Day weekend? Ten thousand boats are getting together for a little fun and excitement down at Elliott Key and there is always room for more. What started out as a local’s sailing race years ago has morphed into the largest flotilla of debauchery on the east coast. Booze, babes and boats combine to equal the ultimate water festival, Miami style. Welcome to the Columbus Day Regatta.
Spanning four days and lasting into the wee hours each night, the party and noise from competing boat stereos peaks on Saturday afternoon and goes strong into that good night; but none so gently. Picture the fun of Mardi Gras with the energy of Woodstock and a few palm trees, and you have arrived. All five senses are stimulated in a never-ending parade of Olympic class people-watching. The regatta is all about public nudity, playful water fights and a cornucopia of smells from a thousand barbeque grills. The alcohol consumption ebbs like the tide and somehow, this mishmash event is considered cool.
Getting there is easy. Call that friend with a boat and tell him that you will supply beer. Beer is cheap and plentiful. You may already have some beer in your hurricane emergency kit anyway. To close the deal, tell him you will bring some young single ladies along too. You’re in.
Elliott Key is a long, narrow barrier island protecting Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated about twelve miles south from downtown Miami and has played host to this informal event for decades.
Safety tips: Cell phone coverage is spotty at best. Have a plan in place for meeting your friends, such as GPS coordinates or use your boat’s radio and tune in to a particular marine channel on the hour. If all else fails, fly a large balloon. Check your first-aid kits and create a log of your guests’ names, phone number and and emergency phone number. Have fun, be friendly but be safe. No need turning what amounts to the best boating event around into a tragedy.