(Excerpt from Nick Finneran’s Staniel Cay, Authorhouse, 2004, available at www.nickfinneran.com)
The waters on the Bank that day had a noticeable swell and foot-high waves that broke against Jack’s starboard side. The Great Bahama Bank that separates the Bimini Island Chain from the rest of the Bahamas, is one of the most unique places on earth. When you sail east from Florida, you cross the Straits of Florida. The Straits of Florida, thousands of feet deep, is essentially the huge canyon through which the Gulf Stream flows north up the coast of the United States. If you continue east from Miami, across the Gulf Stream, you reach the Bimini Islands Group, which demarcates the edge of the Great Bahama Bank. The Bank is fifty miles wide from east to west at its widest point, and 180 miles long from north to south. Depths are usually 15-20 feet, and there are constantly shifting sandbars in many places. Crossing the Great Bahama Bank from the Bimini Islands Group to one of the larger Bahamian islands, like New Providence, or vice versa, typically involves a seventy-five mile voyage from east-to-west or west-to-east. This especially makes the Great Bahama Bank a unique place. For a sailboat, it is difficult to cross the Bank in a single day. And with the shifting shallows, it is not a place to sail at night. Therefore, it is very common for a sailboat to anchor for the night in the middle of the Bank, without any land in sight. This is what we intended to do. We took a double reef in our main and sailed without a jib, in order to slow our crossing of the Bank. Our intention was to get three quarters of the way across, and anchor for the night on the Bank itself.
We were perhaps ten miles to the northwest of Andros when the sun moved low in the sky, and we were no longer able to accurately gauge the depths ahead of us. So, we dropped anchor in twelve feet of water and went for a swim. Three large barracuda swam in a circle around us, keeping a careful watch, but not coming very close. After our swim, we turned our attention to dinner. In a large cooking pot, we dumped chunks of grouper that we had caught the day before near Gun Cay Cut. We also dumped our remaining conch, sliced potatoes and onions, a can of evaporated milk, a beer, and some salt. We had an excellent seafood chowder and a few beers for dinner. We slept that night with a gentle pitch, anchored on the Great Bahama Bank, with no land in sight.