The discussion below was copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) mail list!
Has anyone recent (or any) experience with the Grand Lucayan Waterway, cut across Grand Bahama Island at Freeport?
My boat, 49 CPMY, needs 5 feet.
Book that I am looking at shows a low water depth of 4 – 4 1/2 feet at the north entrance (ext going north) before heading to Mangrove.
DeFever 49 CPMY, Cygnet
I know you specifically asked about the north entrance, but I’ll post this information in case it is of some benefit to you. If you’ve been there before, it is doubtful any of this information will come as a surprise. If you haven’t, maybe you can make some use of it.
We spent several weeks in the waterway last year, our second visit. One boat drew 5’0″ and the last visit was in a boat that drew 4’9″ and had no problem going in the south entrance either trip. Depth in the waterway is greater than this, by many, many feet. I’d like to say that the depth is 15 feet, but I’m not real sure on this. No matter, once in the waterway, it was deep enough for either our or your boat, with plenty left over.
We did not use the north entrance. There is a bridge across the waterway about half way across the island, height somewhere around 15 feet, maybe a little more. Closest grocery store, is 5 miles away from this bridge (west), but it is a large supermarket style- not Bahamian like at all!
Anchoring in the waterway is dicey in high winds. This waterway was cut out of the coral rock. Sand on the bottom is generally just a shallow layer over limestone. On the other hand, it is not well developed at all and we had extensive number of places to choose from to tie up to along the sides of the waterway. Either plant anchors in the ground or tie to trees.
A couple of cautions: Below the water level in the waterway is a coral ledge that sticks out from the seawall, up to around 18″ in places. No way to keep the hull off this ledge unless you have wide enough fenders or tie in an area where the ledge is not so wide. We had no trouble locating places to tie up at and with our 18″ fender balls had no difficulties. The seawall is 20,or maybe 30 years old, and is crumbling in places but these places are easy to see… good place to look for lobster, conch and fish though. Many cul de sacs and canal off shoots so you don’t have to tie up in the main canal.
Another caution, but a big one, are the poison trees. The place is heavily loaded with them. It is their equivalent of our poison ivy or poison oak. Even barely touching them or getting in the smoke, if they are being burned, can prove harmful. Be sure to get someone that is familiar with what they look like to show you before you touch one. Once poisoned, it takes an exorbitant amount of time to get rid of the itchy, miserable rash. You’ll be shocked at how many trees are there. In the areas that we were in they outnumbered the pines.
Theft is rampant on that island. Try not to leave the boat unattended; or, at least have someone close by watching it, if at all possible.
With all of the side roads, if you have bikes it is easy to get around the island, from one end to the other although the port end is serviced with one, fairly narrow, two lane highway. No bike paths at this end, and no side roads either, and the drivers go fast. Otherwise, on both of our visits to Grand Bahama Island, we had many enjoyable bike trips around.
As a side note, Grand Bahama Island gets their water from a fresh water aquafer. If you have to pay for water, it is usually the cheapest water in the islands.
We’ve enjoyed our time in the waterway, potential for theft and poison trees included. We looked up from our breakfast one Sunday morning and there were about 15 little sailing skiffs from the local yacht club using our anchored boat as a windward mark. They had a kid’s sailing program and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. We were glad that they didn’t. Friendly, smiling little tykes… most of them were trying so hard!
Rudy and Jill
I went through the north end of the canal again this year at high tide & saw 6′ plus for depth
I went through a couple years ago with a 4 1/2 draft and 24′ height. The north entrance is your only concern as you need near high tide and it is much later than at Freeport. Some of the marker poles are missing and you need to ignore the colour of reflectors on the poles. If you have a chart that shows poles the channel goes straight but with some missing it looks like you need to go around some especially with red or orange reflectors on all? This may have been changed by now but I doubt it. This canal is a memorable experience and you should do it at least once.
I have run the waterway several times, last time at low tide in 25′ cruiser with a sterndrive it bumped on the north end while headed out. The water was like glass. Since then, I trim the outdrive while heading out here. I would recommend hitting it at high tide and no wave action to avoid prop damage