The Great Bahama Banks

Friday, October 30th

We are crossing the Great Bahama Bank, on our way to the Berry Islands. The Great Bahama Bank is made up of limestone deposits that scientists believe was exposed to  air during the last ice age (meaning it was dry land), when the sea level was substantially lower. Today, it’s total thickness is almost three miles. The shallow waters of the bank extend southeast from Miami, in a broad curve about 330 miles long between Cuba and Andros Island in the Bahamas. The waters of the Bahama Bank are very shallow, no more than 80 feet; we traveled in 10-20 feet of water most of yesterday. However, it’s edge drops off very quickly into deep, deep water. Basically, it’s a huge sandbar in the ocean.

Our ride was very comfortable. We saw one little boat on the horizon, but other than that, the banks were ours. With no boat traffic and calm waters, there was little to no navigation to do. Scott took a hour or so nap (not in the cock pit), and we puttered around doing random things.

The Berry Islands anchorage that we’re heading for is a 14 hour run, which we cannot make with  daylight hours getting shorter. So after traveling for six hours,  we anchored in 10 feet of water in the middle of the banks…in the middle of nowhere. I mean nowhere. Nothing in sight all around us, and nothing on the radar for 36 miles….no land, no boats, no markers…nothing. Here we are on the chart (yes, Kirk, this is your chart!).

And here are our surroundings at anchor.

By the way, we are officially in the Bermuda Triangle…

Once anchored, we discovered some stowaways on our rigging. Two small birds had hitched a ride with us! By the time we saw the birds, I’d already let Howard out and he was up on the flybridge. Sure enough, when I went up to check on him he was in full stalking mode. I was terrified that he’d go over board, leaping to get to one (when we were at our slip in Baltimore, Howard jumped off of our bow and onto a duck..that was in the water!). Thankfully, they eluded him, and we eventually lost sight of them. However, they may still be holed up somewhere, as it’s a long, long flight to land for them.

The water was glassy calm, and we could see clearly to the bottom. Scott finally got in the water for a bit, and also dove down to check the anchor.

We spent most of the late afternoon sitting on the swim platform, dangling our legs in the cool water, Scott enjoying his Bahamian mango rum. Being in the middle of nowhere provided great star gazing later in the evening, and we got a great view of the milky way.

Scott took a flashlight, and shined it down toward the water, off of our swim platform. It attracted lots of little crabs and some sizable fish.

In the middle of the night, big rolling swells woke us up. Scott’s theory was that we were feeling wakes from ships traveling overnight to get to their destination in the morning. He checked the radar, but nothing showed up around us for 36 miles. The rocking lasted for a few hours before settling down. It didn’t knock me out of bed, but I stayed clear of the edge!

Tomorrow, we’ll anchor off of Great Harbour Key, in the Berry Islands. Photos from today.

Catch of the day: Seaweed

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

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