Cruising Destinations: The Route to Nassau

By Rich

The road from Bimini to Nassau is best broken up into manageable chunks if one is to limit travel to daylight hours only. For our first passage east of Bimini, we chose this method. On subsequent return trips we felt we knew the waters well enough to travel overnight directly from Nassau all the way to Fort Lauderdale without stopping.

Mackie Shoal

A good single day trip will take a cruiser just under 40 miles east to Mackie Shoal. The contours of the ocean floor in the Bahamas present some great contrasts; in this part of the island chain the depths only range from 15-20 feet for zillions of square miles. As one travels there is no land in sight but the ocean floor is clearly visible below the boat as one sails along. It’s very cool.

There’s really nothing at Mackie Shoal except for an unlit pole to mark the area, but it serves as a de facto overnight anchorage for cruisers transiting the area when weather conditions are settled. Stopping there for the night is a very novel experience – there’s no land to be seen in any direction, yet the bottom can clearly be seen just a few feet under one’s keel. It goes without saying that the sunsets are incredible there.

Chub Cay

Another good day’s travel will bring one 46 more miles east past Northwest Shoal to Chub Cay. The ocean floor plunges down from a depth of only 15 feet or so west of Northwest Shoal to well over a thousand east of it. The contrast is water color is fascinating as you pass over the edge of this under-water shelf.

The Chub Cay marina was closed due to hurricane damage for our visit, so we stopped a little east of the marina entrance in the Diamond Cay anchorage. We spent two very pleasant lay days here waiting for big winds to abate before making the jump to Nassau. The scenery was staggering, with a vacant and hurricane damaged mansion serving as something of an accent piece for the scene.

From Chub Cay Nassau is an easy 30 miles away.

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