Yellow Bank White Bank
24 February 2016 | Exumas, Bahamas
We motorsailed with 'Illusions' down the Northwest Providence Passage to Rose Island, just off the east coast of New Providence, or Nassau. I thought we were looking for an anchorage behind a shallow rock island, but it turned out to be an anchorage behind an underwater reef. The reef protects boats from wave action, but the east wind provided a pretty strong surge action instead. While a gorgeous setting, it was an unsettling night of restless sleep. We were ready to head off across the banks early the next morning. We choose not to stop at Nassau, with its many tourist attractions in favor of the promise of pristine waters and solitary islands in the Exuma Islands chain. But first we had to cross the banks.
The banks are very shallow water, with dangerous areas full of coral heads, ie., rocky outcrops just below the surface of the water. The guidebook tell us to 'read the water' to distinguish among the colors that identify sand, grass, rock and coral heads. Yeah right. The last three all look the same to me...darker water as opposed to the brilliant blue of water over sand. The Yellow Bank is the worst area for coral, followed by the White Bank. There is a narrow area between the two, and that is where we set our course. Our charts had coral heads/rocks marked with little circles with an X in the middle but also had the disclaimer that not all of them were charted. 'Whisper' and 'Illusions' got through without any issues. Whew!
Our anchorage for the night was Allen Cay, home of the infamous please-don't-feed-the-iguanas, but everyone does. These animals look like cats as they run along the shore greeting visitors who arrive by dinghy.... and are just about the same size as a large Tabby. The surrounding islands are spare and barren looking, with low scrub and lots of rocks , not very many palm trees in this tropical paradise. The water however was clear clear blue and irresitable for swimming and snorkeling. And the nighttime sky was awesome, with a zillion stars and no land lights to interfere with their brilliance.