At 7:30 AM, the sun is shining and Cutter Loose is outbound in Hopetown channel on a rising tide. Today’s destination is Little Harbor, some 16 miles to the south. Our course takes us through White Sound and alongside Tahiti Beach and the snake-like Tilloo Cut channel into the Atlantic Ocean. The primary navigational concern this morning is transiting Lubber’s Quarters Channel, which carries only 4.5 feet of water depth at low tide. At high tide, however, there is sufficient depth in these waters to keep Cutter Loose afloat.
Further south, we enter the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, a Bahamian National Park where a series of smaller cays and their intricate reef systems are protected. Most of the local commercial dive boats utilize day moorings in this area as a playground for their half-day dive and snorkeling trips. But the small boat moorings near Sandy Cay are located less than a mile from an open cut to the Atlantic Ocean. Tidal current and ocean swells render this area dangerous and uncomfortable in all but the most settled weather. Despite light winds, conditions today are not the best for snorkeling as ocean swells are breaking on the reefs.
We decide instead to continue on to Little Harbor, the southernmost harbor in the Sea of Abaco. On final approach to the harbor entrance, four foot ocean swells entering the Sea of Abaco through the Little Harbor inlet take us by surprise and roll Cutter Loose to and fro on her beam. The channel to Little Harbor carries four feet of depth at low tide. An hour after high tide, there is nearly seven feet of depth in the channel, plenty of water to enter the harbor. At 10:30 AM, Cutter Loose is inside and tied to a rental mooring.
This place certainly lives up to its name. Cutter Loose is one of about a dozen boats on moorings in the harbor. Rock outcroppings along its perimeter create a snug, protected place to be in a blow. There are only a handful of homes overlooking this secure setting.
Pete Johnson operates a gallery, foundry and studio on the eastern shore of this harbor in which he creates bronze sculpture. His artistic creations include highly detailed turtles, birds and fish.
After visiting the gallery, a stroll along the beach is akin to walking on the lunar surface. Small craters in the rugged sandstone rock formations have been carved by the constant pounding of the breakers. At low tide, snails and whelks populate the shallows, waiting for the ocean to deliver a fresh supply of nutrients.
Later in the evening, we gather with boat buddies at Pete’s Pub, a local beach bar complete with live music and picnic tables in the sand. Regrettably absent from our group are the crews of Flatlander and Lark which began their return to the US a few days ago. We wish them a safe passage across the Gulf Stream.
After dinner, we walk to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of the harbor. The dark night sky is filled to overflowing with glimmering stars and planets. With a gentle ocean breeze, we are reminded how fortunate we are to experience this picturesque corner of the world.