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Old 30-11-2015, 17:32   #1
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Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

We are getting ready to cross from Bimini to Nassau, where we are meeting up with friends and then continue to the Exumas.

One route we are looking at is an overnight from Gun Cay to the NW light and then keep going to Nassau, all in about 22 hours straight. Another route is North Rock to Mackie Shoal and anchor for the night, then onto Chub Cay and dock for the night, and then to Nassau the next day, taking three days total but no overnight cruising.

We both have some sailing experience, but have never done an overnight passage, at least not outside of our ASA courses. We have a good weather window coming up that will be pretty calm no matter which option we choose.

I'm looking for input from those who have done this crossing before and any recommendations you may have for us first-timers in the Bahamas.


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Old 30-11-2015, 17:51   #2
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

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Originally Posted by blackcatscooter View Post
Another route is North Rock to Mackie Shoal and anchor for the night, then onto Chub Cay and dock for the night, and then to Nassau the next day, taking three days total but no overnight cruising.
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That sounds good but you can anchor just a couple of miles east of Chub Cay. Beautiful little cove.
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Old 01-12-2015, 13:17   #3
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

I've anchored on the banks several times. - I make sure to get off the obvious rumb line most boats will be following. How comfortable it is depends on the sea state and current. Being swung abeam to even small waves by a current can be fairly rolly. (like anchoring where there's surge) Where I've anchored in the Berry Islands has been wind dependent. I've also had some wonderful nights puttering across the banks in calm conditions where I'm able to see the bottom by moonlight. Personally, I don't believe in committing to any single strategy, preferring to be adaptable to what conditions and circumstances dictate.
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Old 01-12-2015, 13:49   #4
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

If the weather's good just keep going. With Explorer Charts and GPS you should not have any problems. Get to Nassau at daybreak. The only slightly tricky part is when you get to NW Channel Light (light is completely gone but that's not the tricky part). The tricky part is that there's usually a bit of traffic here. If there are fishermen or mail boats in the area stay well clear of them but the passage from Bank to Tongue of the Ocean is wide so you've got room. It can get a bit lumpy if the tide's ebbing and the seas are from the east but it's a short distance to the deep water and the seas will get better.

As you're in Bimini whether you go North Rock or Gun Cay will depend on where the wind is. Take the route that gives you the better point of sail.
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Old 01-12-2015, 21:21   #5
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

I can't count the number of times I have done this. Gun to the NW channel is easy and well charted. The pinch at the NW channel means you have to keep a very good watch. Anchoring on the bank is OK if the weather is settled, otherwise uncomfortable. I never plan on anchoring on the bank, but that just personal preference. Whether you want to stop at Chubb depends on what you want to see. The marina at Chubb is very nice, and at $4/ft/night it should be. The anchorage off the marina is very rolly. If you have a cat, its OK, otherwise untenable, seemly regardless of wind direction. The eastern end of Chubb, called Hog Fraziers, is a surprisingly nice anchorage, with good protection, from most wind angles. Its better than it looks on the charts. We carry 6.5' draft through at mid tide. Its a taste of the very old Bahamas. Hog Fraziers requires eyeball navigation. Do not attempt to enter it at night or in poor visibility. The run to Nassau is easy from Hog Fraziers/Chubb.
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Old 01-12-2015, 21:30   #6
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

NW Channel light -
Info on the Explorer charts website a few days ago was that a pole with light had been erected at NW Channel.
No guarantees that it's still there lol.
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Old 02-12-2015, 05:37   #7
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

Twice we have left Miami before dawn, entered the banks at Gun Cay, travelled straight to Nassau arriving in early morning, pull up to the Texaco dock and clear customs (buy a bit of fuel if they complain, but they generally do not), leave immediately across the Yellow Bank and arrive in the Exumas by sunset.

36hrs and you are having sundowners in the Exumas a universe away from the US.

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Old 02-12-2015, 05:38   #8
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
... The only slightly tricky part is when you get to NW Channel Light (light is completely gone but that's not the tricky part) ...
FWIW:
There’s an unconfirmed report (Nov. 2015) that the Northwest Channel light has been replaced with a new solar powered light on a pole.
New Northwest Channel Light | Bahamas Chatter
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:22   #9
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

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NW Channel light -
Info on the Explorer charts website a few days ago was that a pole with light had been erected at NW Channel.
No guarantees that it's still there lol.
Lol. I guess I meant a few weeks ago. Thanks Gord.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:16   #10
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Re: Crossing the Great Bahama Bank

What's your rush? We always stop in the Berry's to avoid an overnight crossing.
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