On January 26th we left Royal Island to head through Current Cut to Hatchet Bay. Current Cut is like a Hell Gate in New York with currents running up to 5 knots, but you have to mix in the fact that there are no current predictions here and once you pass through the Cut, you have to dodge very shallow water (as we found out, in places not shown on the chart). Depending upon the reference guide that you read, high tide at the Cut (the closest approximation to slack current) is 1 to 3 hours after Nassau high tide, quite a difference when you figure that a the cycle from high to low tide is about 6 hours. After much discussion, we decided to average out the opinions, and ran through the Cut at 11:00 am (HT at Nassau 10:20), and we picked up the flood current of about 2 knots. The Cut is very narrow, and we passed through with ripples and eddies but no problems. The reference guides suggest you head strongly to South (hard starboard turn) which we planned to do, but after reviewing our new Explorer charts showing a preferred route straight ahead, and passing near high tide, we decided not to bank right.
Celebrian led the way, and also went straight. When they took a hard right, I realized we had a depth issue. For about 20 minutes, we picked a route to get out of the shallows, by slowing going South. Following the Yachtsman’s Guides waypoints we cleared the shallows finally without touching ground.
We had a vigorous sail, tacking through 15 knots of east winds, until we finally lowered the sails and headed for the Hatchet Bay harbor. Even though the guides cautioned that the entrance is bigger than it looked, we actually thought we had made a mistake coming here, and being unable to clear the entrance. As we inched closer, the prospects improved, and we made our way clear. We even were able to pick up a free government mooring, new installed. As another blow is coming, I am happy to be tied to the ground.