Traveling in a Small Boat From the Hub of Abaco
to Green Turtle Cay
We are frequently asked about travel in a rental, or other small boat, from Elbow, Man-O-War, and Guana Cays to destinations on Green Turtle Cay. This is a substantial trip, in terms of time, the cost of fuel, and the potential difficulty associated with the expected headwinds and seas which are typically encountered on the way home. Always keep in mind that the prevailing winds in the Sea of Abaco are from the southeast, and that they stiffen in the afternoon. Your boat and crew will often have to deal with a slow, bumpy, wet, return trip. That's not to say that in the hotter months, July through September, you won't encounter a glassy lake. But it's just as likely that you'll be heading into a 15-20 kt headwind, and that can make for a long, tedious trip back to port. Please take a few moments to work through How Rough is the Sea of Abaco? Boaters departing from White Sound or Hope Town should steer NW for a point NE of Point Set Rock (26-34.37/077-00.55W), roughly 3 nm (nautical miles). After clearing this landmark, come to port and steer about 315 degrees M for the Don't Rock Passage (about 14 nm); make sure you steer around the Fish Cays. Boaters departing from MOW will steer 300 degrees for about 12 nm to Don't Rock, and boaters departing from Guana Settlement should steer 285 degrees for 8 nm to Don't Rock. Please read the section on the Don't Rock Passage; the waypoint NE of Don't Rock lies at 26-41.13N/077-14.71W. The passage is about 1 nm in length. As of summer 2013 shoaling to 3-4' (low tide) was reported just NW of Don't Rock, so proceed with caution through this area.
After traversing the Don't Rock Passage, maintain a course from the Sand Bank Cays of 320 M until New Plymouth lies to your north, then make a lazy turn to starboard around the shoals on the SW side of Green Turtle, bringing you into New Plymouth, Black Sound, or White Sound, roughly 6 nm. See Dodge for details relating to the entrances of these locations.
One-way distances are as follows: Elbow to GTC = about 24 nm, MOW to GTC = about 19 nm, and Guana to GTC = about 15 nm. Typically you will have a following sea, and you'll probably be able to make at least 20 kts. Depending on your point of departure, travel time should be 45-75 minutes. Be advised that there may be interesting things to see along the way, which can extend the duration of your trip.
Departing from GTC (Settlement Creek/New Plymouth, Black Sound, or White Sound), steer SW until you clear the shoals on that side of GTC, then make for the Don't Rock Passage (Sand Bank Cays, (26-41.75N/077-15.63W). Then run the reciprocal course you ran earlier in the day.
Again, we want to emphasize that the potentially brisk SE wind may substantially slow you down and add to your fuel cost. On a good day with light wind, a boater traveling from Elbow to GTC and back, a distance of 48 nm, will burn about 25 gallons in the average rental boat. At $6/gallon for fuel, plus some outboard oil, your boating cost for the day will approach $175. If the wind is stiff, your fuel burn returning to port will further increase. Consider that as yet you haven't eaten, drank, or bought whatever; this trip can make for a rather expensive day.
One last issue: if you are in a rental boat, make sure you ask permission to take the boat that far north. Some companies will not allow renters to travel past the Treaure Cay-Whale Cay bar.