On our journey south this trip, we called Nassau Harbor Control requesting permission to transit the harbor eastbound, not stopping,, but simply passing through to the Exuma Banks. The lady answering the call seemed shocked that we weren’t stopping in the city as it was already going on 4 PM. Nonetheless, she granted us permission to pass through, and in reality, all we planned to do was sail about a half hour out of the harbor to a secluded anchorage under the lee of Rose Island at West Bottom Harbor, a location that would grant us an easy exit heading south across the banks. West Bottom Harbor is a snug anchorage that is well protected from winds out of the north-west through to the south-east. In any other winds, you would not want to be here, so it is important to plan ahead and determine the wind’s direction for the duration of your stay.
We had winds out of the northeast at 15 to 18 knots, and the sail up into the anchorage was choppy with spray flying until we found the lee of the island. Our entrance was uneventful. The holding in the harbor is so so; you have to pick and choose until you find a good spot, and it took us a second try on this visit to get the hook to grab. There were about 10 other boats anchored with us, all having found their sweet spots prior to our late 5 PM arrival. Still, Rose Island is a pretty place to stop, a private island, in other words, you cannot go ashore without permission from the owner, but since we only planned an overnight stay, we chose to take photos and watch the dive boats with all their activities rather than try to get ashore.
We made use of the Rose Island anchorage on the way home also, and I will tell you more about the sail northbound to Rose later on, but for now, let me mention something neither the guide books nor the charts warn you about. When the charts, and specifically I mean the Explorer Chart books, the undeniably superior charts for the Bahamas, show a coral head, I generally keep an eye out for them since we draw just over 6 feet, but unless specific clearance warnings are stated, you usually find plenty of water over the tops of the heads. Well, there are two tiny X marks on the way in, almost too small to notice, but we found one of them at low tide on our way north. A solid bump as I was leaning down on the bow getting the anchor ready to deploy, and I barely caught sight of the coral out of the corner of my eye as it passed below the bow as the water was rough and visibility marginal. So a word to the wise here, if coral is shown, pay close attention even if there are no warnings.