Bimini, The Grand Bahama Banks and Chub Cay

Alice Town on North Bimini Island is not a very big place.  I think there is only one road north to south, the main mode of transportation is golf carts.  There were several shops and a bakery, two or three restaurants, one bank, two liquor stores and several marinas.  That’s about it. It’s a little border town and I would like to visit for a day or two but we are on the way to the Exumas and we want to spend as much time there as possible.

I was having trouble getting good weather info.  I was still getting NOAA weather out of Florida but nothing from the Bahamas.  Turns out that the weather forecasts are on AM Radio at noon, HF and VHF at 0600 (6am). We couldn’t get internet connections so I just took some local fishermens advice and we started for Chub Cay across the Grand Bahama Banks.  It is 90 miles of open water that is only 6 to 12 feet deep. It’s crystal clear and there are coral heads every so often that are close to the surface.  As I’ve stated earlier my client, Glenn, is not fond of sailing at night so we planned to anchor out in the middle of nowhere.

There is a shoal called Mackie Shoal in the middle of the Grand Banks that I planned to anchor on, the wind was out of the NE so I headed for a spot on the SW side of the shoal.  We got there about 1700 (5pm) and set our anchor with no land in site.  When you look at nautical charts there are magenta lines plotted between locations that most boaters use to get from point A to Point B. It’s called a rhumb line and is normally a well traveled path.  Some boaters set there auto pilots on these lines and don’t deviate. I’ve almost been run over a couple of times by people with their heads buried in the chart plotter and for that reason I went south of the plotted course by one nautical mile to the shallowest water I could get to before dark.

Once the anchor was set we watched a beautiful sunset in some of the roughest seas I have been in in quite awhile. It was so rough. The boat was rocking and rolling and the winds were blowing at least 15  knots. We decided to make a light dinner of crackers and everyone went to bed.  Jane and I decided to sleep in the cockpit so I could keep an eye on things.  About an hour after the sun went down we got our first rain shower and the winds picked up to about 2o knots. It looked like it was clearing behind the first squall but as it turns out it was just the first of many squall lines that blew over us all night.  The wind was howling in the rigging and the mizzen was making a lot of noise.  It was so dark that you couldn’t see the horizon at times. Suddenly about 0300 everything got quite. I looked at the compass and it appeared that the wind had shifted but when I checked the GPS position we had drifted about half a mile.  I grabbed my life jacket and went out to check the anchor line but found that the anchor line had broken.  I got back into the cockpit and started the motor which woke everyone else up at which time they all started coming on deck.  The second anchor wasn’t rigged so I decided to start heading back toward the rhumb line course and start easing toward Chub Cay. It was dark but I figured that the course would be the safest place to be. We motored all night and finally got a little sail up early the next morning. We would make Chub Cay and not have to anchor out another night.

Chub Cay is in the southern Berry Islands, located on the north side of the Tongue of the Ocean. We made it there about 1600 (4pm) that afternoon. We were escorted out into the deeper water by a pod of dolphin. Jane’s first experience with them.  Once safely inside and tied up at the dock I went out like a light just after dark and slept all night. We will post a review of Chub Cay Club Marina in another post but we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

We have since left Chub Cay and are currently at the Lyford Cay Club on New Providence Island. We will leave tomorrow and head for the Exumas and may not have much internet access for a couple of weeks but as soon as we get to a wifi spot we will post an update.

I will be able to post our location via our SPOT device which updates on our Facebook page Boat Bumz


1 comment for “Bimini, The Grand Bahama Banks and Chub Cay

  1. Judy Arigoni
    February 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Hi Michael and Jane,
    It has been fun following you on your tropical adventure. Really loved the video of the dolphins!! Happy you found your warm winter!!! Can’t wait to see what happens next.


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