Cuts and Banks
15 April 2015 | Melbourne, FL
Once in Exuma Sound, we began to understand that sailing in the Bahamas is about cuts and banks. Cuts are passages generally between cays leading to anchorages or to the banks. The banks are broad expanses of shallow water, ranging in depth from a meter, or less, to six or seven meters. Travel in the Bahamas involves travel across these banks along tracks that are recommended and printed on charts and available on the GPS. With our six foot draft (1.8 meters), we found plenty of tracks that would support our depth. The next trick was getting to them through often hairy cuts on time schedules that permitted transit during daylight hours. Despite the fact that you could see the bottom racing by on the banks during the day, I had no interest in crossing one at night.
After our brief visit to George Town, we needed to “escape” from the Exuma Sound cul-de-sac without going east around Eleuthra. That meant sailing across the Grand Bahama Bank, an extensive shallow bank bordered on the west by the Tongue of the Ocean. We made our way to Highborne Cay and spent a remarkably poor night at anchor as the current set the boat at right angles to the swell keeping us rolling all night. I pretty much spent the night up fearing the worst. Moving the anchor at night seemed out of the question to me as you can't see the bottom to ensure that you're putting the anchor on sand and not turtle grass.
By 0700, we hoisted the anchor and headed across the great shallow expanse along a prescribed route. The bank crossing was eventless, and we exited from four meters of water to more than a thousand feet of water in a matter of minutes after the six hour traverse. We pressed north in the Tongue of the Ocean to New Providence Island (home of Nassau) where we stumbled unknowingly into a marina owned by the rich and famous, for the rich and famous.
Albany Resort, home of Albany Marina, is owned in part by great golfers Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. It sports a championship golf course and amenities too extensive to mention. It also sports hefty price tags. We had entered the marina because of its deep water access and were allowed to spend the night despite our length, which was below their 50’ minimum. Of course, we were charged the 50’ rate, which was so embarrassingly high I won’t mention it here. Just note that one of our nearby slipmates was Vango; she was 250’ long and had a helicopter atop one of her many decks.
After a very comfortable night and two fine meals in Footprints, the restaurant with the sand floor (pictured above with Elaine), we left the world of the outrageously wealthy and headed off for Old Bahama Bay on the west end of Great Bahama Island to stage for our Gulf Stream crossing back to the States.
Another chapter in our cruising adventure was nearing a comfortable end.