Sunday, January 19, 2014

Heading to the Exumas by way of Eleuthra

With the watermaker working again and the kids back home, it was time to continue on our trip and we decided to head to the Exumas.  To get there, you exit the inside waters of the Abacos and head back out to sea for about a 50nm leg south to Eleuthra.  From there it's about another 50nm to the beginning of the Exuma island chain.

The crossing was pretty interesting.  In general the weather was pretty good, but with a 3-5' swell.  It was a gentle, spaced out swell, so not too bad.

The first notable part of the trip is the depth.  No more than about a mile or two outside of Abacos, the sea depth plummets.  The picture below shows the graph from our sounder showing the beginning of the cliff.   Then the next pictures shows the next drop off going from about 1000' down to 1500', at which point the sounder loses it.  Charted depths range from 12,000' to 15,000' for the crossing.

The first depth drop off

Second drop from 1000' to 1500' before depth is lost

The second interesting part was the freighter/tanker traffic.  Distance and speeds are so deceptive out in the open water, and you come to appreciate the assistance rendered by the boat's instruments.  Just watching this freighter for 10-15 minutes, I would have judged that we were on a near collision course.  And, I'm the give-way ship in this case (he has right of way)

Crossing ship - will we collide?

The next picture shows us approaching each other on the chart plotter.  Still looks like a close call, right?
Crossing traffic show on chart plotter

Actually, in the above picture it's more clear that we are not going to hit.  The red arrows coming out of the bows of each boat represent their speed, and you can see pretty clearly that the freighter is going much faster that we are.  When the tips of the arrows are near each other, that's when you have trouble.  As a side note, you can also see that the charted depth here is about 4000 meters.

Even better than looking at the red arrows, you can click on the other ship and the plotter will tell you your CPA, aka closest point of approach, aka, how close you will come to each other.  In this case, we were quite literally going to miss each other by a mile.

And sure enough, he passed well ahead of us, yet close enough to see that he's carrying a yacht on his deck, just the way new boats are shipping over from China.

Crossing ship with yacht on deck

By about 1:00 we arrived at Royal Harbor which is a very nicely protected anchorage a few miles from Spanish Wells and Harbor Island/Dunmore Town.

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