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Old 04-22-2019, 04:57 PM   #1
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For Those Planning A Bahamas Trip

We were sitting out back of Sonas after dark last night when it seems the aliens were landing! A fleet of about eight boats and a catamaran came in behind us with running lights, search lights etc. (Photo and full story in next blog).

We found out next day that it was a newly arriving French boat that followed a Navionics chart route between Fowl Cay and Guana - which simply does not exist. They ended up holed on the reef there.

They are secured now, but folks, no matter how well you have come to trust your chart "packages," especially the downloadable ones for iPad etc. I highly recommend that, when visiting areas where you have never been before, you use well publicised and charted waypoints, no matter how much you may think they add to the route. Dodge Guide, Explorer Charts, MapTech etc. Don't just follow the "dotted lines" when you don't have local knowledge.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:41 PM   #2
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We were sitting out back of Sonas after dark last night when it seems the aliens were landing! A fleet of about eight boats and a catamaran came in behind us with running lights, search lights etc. (Photo and full story in next blog).

We found out next day that it was a newly arriving French boat that followed a Navionics chart route between Fowl Cay and Guana - which simply does not exist. They ended up holed on the reef there.

They are secured now, but folks, no matter how well you have come to trust your chart "packages," especially the downloadable ones for iPad etc. I highly recommend that, when visiting areas where you have never been before, you use well publicised and charted waypoints, no matter how much you may think they add to the route. Dodge Guide, Explorer Charts, MapTech etc. Don't just follow the "dotted lines" when you don't have local knowledge.
Don't come into a strange place at night, especially someplace with reefs and shallows. Regardless of how good you think your charts are, they will alkyl be wrong at some point. Coming into a strange anchorage at night is as rookie mistake.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:52 PM   #3
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Don't come into a strange place at night, especially someplace with reefs and shallows. Regardless of how good you think your charts are, they will alkyl be wrong at some point. Coming into a strange anchorage at night is as rookie mistake.
Gordon, not sure they were coming in at dark, just dark by the time they were floated, secured and brought to the anchorage. This included pumps, flotation bags and double epoxy'd boards below the water line.

Anyone trying that route even in daylight would likely have an issue (though if they were attuned to reading Bahamian waters they may have realized they needed to abort).
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:38 AM   #4
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I tried to look it up on my charts but I came up with 3 different Fowl Cays. Can you give me a lat Lon. I would like to see what my charts say.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:45 AM   #5
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Look at Elizabeth Harbour, George Town, Exuma. On the north side of the harbour you will see Stocking, then Guana, then Fowl, going west to east. They tried to go between Guana and Fowl.
They reported that Navionics indicated a route through there. I don't have Navionics on board so let me know what you see.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:39 AM   #6
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Extensive discussion on an other forum that mentioned that the CURRENT Navionics charts do not show this route. So not only were they not keeping an appropriate lookout, but they were also using outdated charts. Bad combination!
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:43 AM   #7
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C-Map ENC charts that are Explorer charts in ENC format- very clearly show an obstruction and reef that extends the entire breadth of the area between those cays. I don't have any Navionics to reference. In the years we've been cruising the Bahamas (since '09) I've heard from a number of sources that the Navionics charts are not to be trusted in the Bahamas. Any time we encounter folks who are new or considering Bahamas cruising, we always stress that they should first & foremost have a set of Explorer charts. Paper, ENC, no matter, just use them.

Our 1st trip was Wavy Line ENC charts, backed up with Explorer paper. Wavy Line IIRC are based on admiralty charts, inaccurate compared to Explorer. We confirmed every thing with the Explorer charts as the primary source. They just weren't available in ENC version then. Now they're available from several sources. For folks using Garmin, if they're Navionics, I'd sure have some version of Explorer charts as the primary nav source. One reason I'm a big proponent of PC based chartplotting- you have more choice in chartography.

Sad to learn of such mishaps, it does happen, unfortunate that it can be tied to poor charting.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:51 AM   #8
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I saw another writeup about it in the Cruiser Forum yesterday. Seems some older versions of Navionics indicated a way through. Looking at the Navionics charts on Waterway Guide right now there is nothing that looks like a way through. This type of incident just serves to reiterate not relying on any one source of information for charts and also using your eyes to verify as best as possible what the charts are saying to you.


2 Years ago I was cruising in Maine in very dense fog (visibility less than 100') and even though I had 2 different charts, depthfinder and radar all saying the same thing, I crawled into this rock strewn harbor. Definitely high on the pucker factor.


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Old 04-23-2019, 08:38 AM   #9
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How many boats has that reef eaten at this point?

That’s at least four by my memory count.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:10 AM   #10
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My navionics shows maybe a dingy can get through there by hugging Guyana cay.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:21 AM   #11
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I read the Cruiser's Forum thread on it where the old and new Navionics were posted - big difference!

Another Navionics Victim in Georgetown - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:39 AM   #12
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I read the Cruiser's Forum thread on it where the old and new Navionics were posted - big difference?

Another Navionics Victim in Georgetown - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
That always seems to be the culprit when it happens.

That, and going through a pass or cut somewhere you have never been through in the Bahamas in bad, or no light. You just donít do that.
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:13 PM   #13
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For Those Planning A Bahamas Trip

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This is what my Garmin iPad chart shows. No route shown but active captain has a warning there.

Last time in the Bahamas I know I was guilty of blindly following the dotted line on my Garmin plotter at times. I will pay more attention to my paper Explorer charts this time and use their waypoints.

Thanks for the heads up!
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:50 PM   #14
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This is what my navionics chart looks like
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:52 PM   #15
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Green means go!
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:08 PM   #16
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Extensive discussion on an other forum that mentioned that the CURRENT Navionics charts do not show this route. So not only were they not keeping an appropriate lookout, but they were also using outdated charts. Bad combination!
Yes I saw that thread as well. It's a common mistake, both of them actually, not updating charts and not watching surroundings. Both are absolutely essential for safe navigation. I have seen the route that they attempted and I would never have attempted that no matter what the charts said, not to mention that you can HEAR the water breaking between those 2 islands. Even in the dark when they couldn't see everything by the light of day and see how dangerous it was, this would be terrifying, like sailing into the mouth of the dragon!! wth??
Every boater has to have enough common sense to keep the boat afloat no matter what tools they are using.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:04 PM   #17
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Chart twice, shortcut never.
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Old 04-26-2019, 08:38 AM   #18
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Not to springboard off somebody else’s misfortune, but this makes me feel good about our practice of sitting down every night after dinner and reviewing our route for the next day. We read every Active Captain warning, and drop a waypoint a couple of miles ahead of those that might be particularly problematic. There are 3 Active Captain warnings on this “pass”; the one shown above is a little wordy, but the point marker in the “pass” says simply, “Caution|there is no route between Fowl and Guana Cay”.
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Old 04-26-2019, 09:55 AM   #19
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Night time is always no bueno. They would assume you're a threat
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Old 04-29-2019, 03:55 PM   #20
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I learned many decades ago to use the Explorer Charts, thatís on my Garmins but I also have some drawn paper charts from the 1950s that are Explorer charts. The Yachtsman Guide to the Bahamas are also interesting as they are drawn by hand.
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