Departing Nassau

Valt & Sandy
Thu 9 May 2013 21:54
25:12:239N 077:32:457W
May 8, 2013
We fished the Exuma Bank, landing two fish, both different type jacks. Both very tasty. The seas were dead clam. So calm that we sat out on the bow hypnotized as the sea floor went by. We saw fish, coral heads, clumps of seagrass as we floated above. It was like driving around in a Giant's swimming pool. Surprisingly, no trash littered the sands. We entered Nassau Harbour and went directly to Hurricane Hole Marina to buy some diesel fuel. We wanted a little extra fuel for the three crossings ahead, although we still had about 250 in the tank. We anchored for the first time in the harbour, amazed by the the clear water. Many lovely homes lined the Harbour, and Atlantis Resort stood proudly on he skyline. Big cruise ships tied at the docks. The winds were calm and the sea flat, so we saw bottom. Next morning several cruise ships were entering the East Entrance so no Boats were allowed to exit. Instead of waiting two hours for traffic to clear, we turned around and exited the West Entrance. We were soon in the NW Providence Passage heading to Northwest Light, the entrance to the Great Bahama Bank, some 50 miles NW of Nassau. There was some boat traffic coming and going. The seas remained calm and we exited the deep NE Providence Channel through the bottle-neck into the shallow Grand Bahamas Bank several hours before sunset. The VHF squawked with messages between several unseen sailboats behind us. We caught and released 9 barracuda and several jacks. Just after sunset 12 we anchored 12 miles from the Gingerbread Grounds.
Next morning we awoke with anticipation. We planned to snorkel/dive the reefs at Gingerbread Grounds. This reef was out of the way, and about 30 miles NE of Bimini, so few people stop there. We were there in 2007 and the seas were dead calm with light winds. We dubbed it "a once in a lifetime stop" because these conditions are very rare. Out in the middle of the Bank, there was nowhere to shelter Amber Isle. We saw the biggest fish, the most variety, the prettiest reefs. We dived for nearly three days until we were unable to walk from sore muscles. We crawled back aboard the boat. But to our surprise, the winds and waves increased overnight. It would not affect our passage to Bimini, but was too rough to snorkel. Launching the dinghy was questionable because the weather could continue to kick up. This spot would still remain "a once in a lifetime stop". For now.
Changing course to the SW we headed to Cat Cay, just south of Bimini. There is a good anchorage there and we can check weather and file our float plan before crossing the Gulf Stream back to Miami. Already finishing three passages on our return trip, all in great weather, we still had three to go before starting up the Tenn-Tom. So far, since leaving Ft. Loudon, all our crossings were good.