On the Move Again

Ambler Isle
V and S
Sun 8 May 2011 13:39
Depths in Feet, Boat in Middle
Boat lower Right, Depths in Meters
Sounder Howling
May 6, 2011
We are moving slowly northward, next stop 15 miles up at Rudder Cut Cay.  Not much there, big cave, nice beach, but guard dogs roam the island now that it was bought by nearby Musha Cay.  Musha Cay is owned by magician David Copperfield and has accommodations for 25 guests.  I think he rents it out for $250,000 per week.  They discourage boaters from even anchoring nearby.   
We took the inside route today.  In the past we always took the Exuma Sound, deep water route.  But we had time to explore, and it would be good to know if we could traverse the shallow inside route if we ever needed to. There are no marker buoys in the Bahamas, so we had to follow the recommended line on our chartplotter. 
 Amber Isle likes 5' of water.  Actually, the props touch at 4'9" so she likes a bit more. The charts were not encouraging.  Our old stand by, the Explorer Charts warned of spots only 1 meter, (3.3') at low tide. The new Garmin chartplotter claimed we'd never see less than 4' at low tide.  Which was right?  We planned to travel on a rising tide, starting at the half-way high mark.  But there is little tide information for this shallow, enclosed area.  Some sources say it is 2.5 hours behind Nassau tides.  But what if that was wrong?  At least we hoped to be going on a rising tide, and we could stop and wait if it proved too shallow.  At one point the depth sounder screeched: we were in 5.6' of water.  But that was 6" more than needed, so we continued.  We sailed through wide expanses of open water dotted by numerous islands and islets.  Most were private and some had big houses.  It was said that Faith Hill was building a huge home on Goat Cay.    After just over two hours we came to our anchorage at Rudder Cut Cay.  The big cave was a beacon to us. Of course, there was no one here.  Comparing the tide level on the rocky shore to our estimates, we discovered that we had misgauged the high tide time by more than an hour.  If this was true, this route was passable even to mid tide levels.  We planned to let out the entire anchor chain here and straighten out the kinks that recur periodically. But first, we let out the anchor and checked the set by gently powering back on it.  Then we hopped into the dinghy and took the "lookie bucket" out to inspect.  It was not set.  We gave another gentle tug.  Again the bucket showed no set.  We raised the anchor and tried again.  Still no set.  What was going on?  Finally we got it to half set, gave another gentle tug and decided to watch it. It finally set.  The winds were calm, and there was no tension on the anchor chain.    So we took the dinghy back to nearby Darby Island, where Vincent and his dad Wendell were doing some carpentry work.  They met us at the dock and were glad to see us.  We continued our exploration, setting down the bucket into the water to check for snorkel reefs.  Amber Isle sat where we'd left her.  The east wind was a mere 6k.  There was a small swell coming in through the Rudder Cut Cay cut.  It would gently rock us to sleep.