Ya Do Whatcha Gotta Do
19 December 2016 | Cave Cay to Spence Rock
We had two choices for leaving the Abacos to reach the Berry Islands. We could follow the inner route from Marsh Harbor through the islands to Little Harbor, go into the Atlantic to pass Sandy Point, and then take a left on the Northwest Providence Channel or we could go directly south from Little Abaco through the Bight of Abaco to enter the Channel northeast of the Berries. The guides say few people do the Bight as it is shallow and has no facilities. But the Abaco route has many distractions and would take us a lot longer to get to our destination so we choose the Bight.
The main challenge of this route is the entrance, a marked "path" on the chart through very shallow water to Spence Rock .... No buoys, no range marks, nothing but a dotted line on a chart. And the line passes over a 4 foot spot or two. We can do it with high water as we draw 4.5 feet. High water, therein lies the problem. The only valid tide location is in Nassau, 50+ miles away. One guidebook says high tide at our location was 20 minutes after Nassau, another book said two hours and a third source said 2-4 hours. Hmmmmmmm. We had also been warned by a local to go the channel at slack tide as there can be a lot of current running. Great.... How do we figure out the timing?
We use our tools. We observe the water level marks on the rocks on shore to determine when the water is rising and falling. Did I mention we were all alone in a pristine anchorage at Cave Cay? We would love to stay but we need to leave on a rising tide and we need to get 30 miles down the Bight in as much daylight as possible. We estimated high tide was around 2pm give or take! So at noon we jump in the dinghy with our Hawkeye portable depth sounder and our handheld GPS. We take soundings with the Hawkeye at the spots on the GPS screen where there is a surveyed depth. Ah Ha! We see we have at least a foot and a half more water on the Hawkeye than on the GPS chart. We hoist anchor and successfully transit the Spence Rock Channel into the Bight.