Heading south along Eleuthera towards the Exumas you have a choice of two
channels, either Current Cut or the Fleeming Channel. Last year, we used
Current Cut on the way south, and the Fleeming Channel on the way back
north. The Fleeming Channel was a breeze, wide open and deep. Current Cut is
Current Cut drains northern Eleuthera to the Northeast Providence Channel.
The northern approach is very simple, but on the south side there’s a fork
in the channel. You can take the south fork, which is deep, but surrounded
by rocks and coral. Or you can take the straight shot that heads south east
through a sand bank, but the sand shifts frequently, and the depths are
shallower. In addition, the current screams through the cut, (hence the
name.) On a falling tide, it rushes north to the open Atlantic, on a rising
tide it flows south onto the bank.
Last year we ran the Cut at about mid-tide with it pushing us through, we
then made the recommended turn to the deeper channel that goes south and
began dodging rocks and coral. After you make the turn, the current is no
longer pushing you from behind, now it is pushing you sideways, ebbing and
turning around the rocks and causing chaos with your intended course. We
vowed never to take that route again.
This year we hit the Cut a little too early, we had a 3 knot current against
us as I felt our way up to the channel. We also saw a sailboat aground on
the sand bar and talked to them on the VHF. We had to wait a couple hours
for the tide to slack, so we anchored nearby, ate lunch, and I found wifi to
post those photos. Sabrina joked that she felt fancy setting a “lunch hook.”
Normally we just eat underway, but dignified folks set an anchor to enjoy a
nice lunch in the middle of the day.
After lunch the tide was beginning to turn, so we headed for the Cut. On our
approach two things happened, a ferry boat left Current Island and took the
deep route to the south, and the boat aground called us on the VHF to
recommend that we follow the ferry so we didn’t end up like them. There was
a moment’s hesitation, but Sabrina and I shared a look that said, ‘We swore
we’d never do that again’ and I replied to the boat, “I’ve done that way
before, I’ll take my chances with the sand and avoid the rocks.” He saw the
logic in my thinking.
On our way through the shallow pass we followed the suggested route and the
lowest depth we saw was 8.5 feet. The sun was high and we could see the sand
banks very well, at the end of the suggested route it appeared that the
north sand bank was hooking a little to the south, so we made a turn to the
SE but never saw less than 10′ in that area, so it was probably fine.
[Cruiser’s note: We made the turn just below the words “Shallow Shifting
Sand” on Explorer Chart EL 10 (page 17,) approximate position 25d23.6′ N;
76d46′ W. Other than that we followed the dashed red line.]
We enjoyed the sandy route much more than the rocky route. I called the boat
aground to let him know what we saw, and I think they were going to follow
that route once the tide lifted them off.
From the Cut we pointed the boat straight for Hatchet Bay and sailed fast in
the calm water with a brisk wind. Hatchet Bay was one of our favorite places
last year, we looked forward to walking around Alice Town, and maybe going
to Twin Brothers for a daiquiri. But as we sailed we started looking at the
fluffy clouds and the bright sunshine. Sabrina remarked out of nowhere,
“Wasn’t Hatchet Bay where we picked up all those flies?” A little later I
said, “This is such a good breeze, Hatchet Bay is so protected it will be
dead calm in there.” The sunshine and clouds sealed our decision, Eleuthera
provides perfect vistas to the west to watch the sunset over the water. We
decided not to enter Hatchet Bay, (it was too late to launch the dinghy to
go ashore anyway,) and headed just south to tiny Rainbow Cay. We anchored in
the lee of Eleuthera as the nice NE breeze pointed our stern towards the
sunset. (And a great sunset it was, I’ll post a photo when we get wifi.)
We were the only boat anchored there, a quiet end to a great day. If every
day cruising was like that day I could never go back, the sail, the crystal
clear water, the sunset, ahhh. As we sat anchored along a beautiful beach a
couple people along shore snapped photos of the sunset, now with JV in the
I hope JV improved their photos, after all we DID just wash the waterline.