Ahoy from Anguilla Cay on the W end of the Cay Sal Banks of the Bahamas!
Yesterday we made the 55 mile journey from Cay Sal Island to Anguilla Cay. We left at around 5:45 AM and arrived at about 2:30 PM. We had 10-15 kts of wind on the nose due to a cold front that moved through the area. It was a very light front and didn't appear on any charts until it was over us. We motored along the edge of the bank to try to minimize the current flowing towards us in the Nicholas Channel. The current direction and strength varied tremendously in very short periods of time. Generally we'd have 0.7 kts against us, but at times we had a knot of current with us, from either side, or no current. I'm sure that it has a lot to do with the incredible topography of the bank.
Cay Sal Bank stretches for about 65 miles and the depth across the bank is extremely consistent. At times I had to watch the depth gauge for 20-30 seconds before it would move 0.1 feet. Crossing from the edge of the bank to Anguilla Cay it always read 51 feet. The amazing thing is that at the edge of the bank there's a cliff that drops straight down 1200-2500 feet! The depth gauge goes from reading nothing to 51 feet in a flash. Wow, that must be quite the dive site too! Right at the edge you can see coral channels leading to the cliff. I'd love to dive it, but I'm worried about the currents.
The Anguilla Cays consist of 2-3 major islands with a cuts between them and smaller islands on the ends. The west most cut had 10+ feet in it, so you could easily get a big boat through it. I didn't measure the other cuts, but they looked equally as deep. Our first attempt at anchoring on the S side of the west-most large island was in front of a beautiful long beach, but wasn't successful as there was only 2-3 inches of sand over rock. We then moved further west to a small cove where we dropped the hook into a grass patch and the anchor set nicely. For the cruiser, we're anchored at 23-29.40N 79-30.99W and also note that the Navionics charts have the island about 3500' too far north. There are lots of coves where you could anchor if there's good holding. On the N side of the island we found lots of nice deep sand.
Today we took the dinghy out for a tour of the island. It's uninhabited and the only life on the island is birds and crabs. These are volcanic island with cliffs going up 20-30 feet. In some places there were long sandy beaches with lots of shells. Sue was in heaven. It must be turtle nesting time as there were turtle tracks all over the place going up into the sand where you could see that they had dug holes. We saw the same thing on Cay Sal. One beach contained a rookery where some kind of sea bird was nesting. They weren't happy that we were there, so we didn't stay long.
The snorkeling is OK. I was thrilled to see quite a few different species of fish that I've never seen before. My camera isn't unpacked yet, but I can't wait to start shooting. The water is amazingly clear. It's better than the best days at Lighthouse Reef.
This afternoon we're headed across the Grand Bahama Bank. We'll leave at 4 PM and head due east across the Santaren Channel. In about 25 miles we'll reach the Grand Bahama bank which has depths starting out at 24' and working down to 12'. Note that we'll be crossing this 70 mile stretch at night. At about 10 AM tomorrow we'll reach an area littered with coral heads and sand bores. That will last for about 25 miles and then we'll anchor behind the reef. All in all this will be a 125 mile trip through some treacherous territory. Luckily we have lots of experience navigating in Belize which has similar characteristics. Wish us luck! I'll report in after we arrive.
-- Geoff and Sue
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