The Abaco Express
12 March 2019
The next navigational challenge on our route to the Abacos was timing the transit of Current Cut correctly. The tidal current rips through this narrow cut at well over 4 knots so most people try to go through at slack tide or shortly after. The problem is there are very few accurate tide tables for the Bahamas, for this area the general consensus is to add 1.5 - 1.75 hours to the Nassau tide. So once our calculations were done and rechecked we left Hatchet Bay at 9 a.m. with an ETA for the cut of 11:45. Once again we had great downwind sailing conditions in a 17 knot easterly breeze and arrived at the cut as predicted. This is another approach that gets your attention in a hurry, after sailing for miles on the wide open bank in 20 feet of water you suddenly enter a narrow channel through a sand bank. There aren't any channel marks but the Explorer Chartbook route is marked on the chartplotter, all you have to do is follow the dotted line and hope that there hasn't been any shoaling. Fortunately these routes are well travelled, so with waves breaking over the shallow sand bars on either side, we wound our way through the channel for a 1/2mile leading to the actual cut. The cut it's self is very deep, so with a sigh of relief we cleared the sand bars and roared through the Cut on a 4.5 knot ebb tide. The rest of the trip was anti-climactic as enjoyed a leisurely sail to the anchorage Royal Island.
Sandbox and Eyre were waiting for us at the anchorage as we had planned to sail the 55 miles to Little Harbour together. Once we were settled the gang headed ashore to explore the remains of an abandoned estate from years gone by. The debate was on whether to cross Sunday or Monday to Little Harbour so all the Captains and Admirals gathered on Sandbox for dinner and a planning session. After looking at all the options we elected to depart Sunday morning and once all the fishing wagers were made we headed off to bed.
It is always reassuring when your plans for a crossing coincide with others and Sunday was no exception. As we left Royal Island at day break we were joined by at least 10 other boats. Light winds greeted us to start the day however, once we got about 4 miles offshore the 14-18 knot easterly filled in and the Abaco Express set off for Little Harbour. The sailing conditions were perfect, so with fishing lines set we sat back and enjoyed the day arriving off Little Harbour ahead of schedule. One of the concerns from our planning session was the condition of the cut when we would arrive. Despite some big side rollers and an ebbing tide everyone was safely through and we all tucked in behind Lynyard Cay for the night. The only negative of the day was Bev struck out fishing while Eyre had 2 Mahi and Moonshadow had one. However, part of the wager was the winners had to feed everyone so once again we dined on fresh Mahi Mahi before calling it a day.
Today's picture is of "Moonshadow" an Aerodyne 47 who crossed with us.