The Bahama Banks


The weather blew through and perfect conditions were predicted to cross the seventy five miles of the Bahama Banks.  It was a sailboat parade pulling out of the Bimini marinas as every sailor was waiting for the same opportunity.  Captain Alwayswasalittlebackwards reversed out of our slip and the marina like a pro.  We set our way points for the Mackie Shoal about half way across the banks.  Sailboats are slow movers and we could not have made it across in daylight.  Repeat after me, I will never sail in the Bahamas at night!  Not only are the waters shallow, navigational markers almost nonexistent and charts incorrect, but it is not uncommon that local boaters travel at night without lights and freighters do not have the best reputation for being alert to other boats.


The Mackie Shoal is an interesting phenomenon.  It is a huge shoal just miles off of the Tongue of the Ocean’s depths that sink rapidly to over 1600 feet.  At the Mackie Shoal you can drop your anchor in about eight feet of water.  Captain Youcanneverbetoocareful had us go about forty minutes out of our way to be well off the direct magenta line of this northern route.  I grumbled about it as there were about seven other sailboats who anchored together closer to the magenta line.  I would have anchored with them.


The next day we spoke with a couple who chose to sail the full seventy five miles in one shot.  They were sailing in the dark through the Mackie Shoals and keeping an eye out for any freighters or boats in the magenta line.  The helmsman spotted a light and was looking through the binoculars to see how far off and what kind of vessel it was.  He followed the light down and saw the small details of a sailboat directly in front of him.  He swerved dramatically just in time to miss a sailboat by fifteen feet anchored right in the magenta line.  Captain Rightagain shot me a sideways smirk as we listened to the story.


It was a serene and mystic night full of a story telling sky.  The water and wind were a soothing calm.  The clouds were bold and changed shape as rapidly as the water changed color.  There was a reclining cloud elf enjoying a cookie surrounded by his bountiful day’s work of goodies.  There was a huge fish chasing another fish with his mouth open.  The little fish changed shape to escape and the big fish closed his mouth with a frown when he realized the shape shifter changed to manatee droppings.  We watched the demanding sunset and grilled the rest of our lobster and chased it with prosecco.  We watched the welcoming sunrise the following morning as we left early for a long motor sail to Chub Key.





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