Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Florida, US northeast
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It depends on what area you are talking about. If you are leaving West Palm, for example, you can go to within a mile or so of Nassau and never see less than about 2000 feet of water.
If you cross from Ft. Lauderdale and come on the Bank at Great Isaac Rock it is also a safe crossing direct to Northwest Channel but, as I said earlier, I don't like that route. I prefer to go about 25 miles from Great Isaac on the course to the Northwest Passage and then head slightly north of east around Great Stirrup and down the Northeast Providence Channel. It's a little longer but deep water all the way. Once I go off soundings which, with my depth sounder is about 600 feet, I don't see bottom again until just before the Nassau harbor entrance. If you have competent crew it's an easy ride through the night. And a beautiful one, I might add.
Depths across the Bank run about 40 feet so you don't have to worry about draft. A broker I knew in St. Augustine told me her husband sailed with Ted Turner and they used to race Maxis across here, so I guess it's not too bad.
I have no personal knowledge of Fresh Creek but you certainly won't make in daylight without a stop, either on the Bank or around Chub Key. Your choices are limited. Leave Florida, pass Bimini and anchor on the Bank or stop at Bimini and Chub Key. As I said earlier, I don't like the NW Passage. It's narrow and surrounded by reefs. The last time I was there, two years ago, the markers were gone. If you go that way I would certainly want to pass there in daylight...and have my chartplotter on.
From Fresh Creek I can't say much for part of the trip but it looks OK on the chart to Highbourne Key, where I have been. I go south SSE around the Yellow Bank to Highbourne. You have to pick your way past Highbourne but once that is done you're in the Exuma Sound, which is deep all the way to the south end of Eleuthera and, to the south, Cat Island. As always, once you're near land you need the Mark I eyeball turned on and tuned. I haven't been much past Highbourne and day sailed in Exuma Sound from there.
That's all I got. Good luck and best regards,