Current Cut High-Speed Drift Dive, Bahamas
This dive has to be one of the most exhilarating drift dives out there. The channel, or Cut, between North Eleuthera and Current Island forces the tide to stream through at 6-10 knots, making for a challenging dive. Your buoyancy skills have to be real sharp to be comfortable on this dive.
A Google Map showing the currents generated between the mainland of Eleuthera, and Current Island, through the Cut
I went with Ocean Fox, a small and well-run dive shop on Harbour Island. The checked my diving experience and requested that I take a dive with them prior to being permitted to dive Current Cut to ensure I was 'up to it'. I liked that they were safety conscious, and understood their requirement after one pass through the Cut!
We made a total of three runs through the Cut. The first lasted 12 minutes, in which time we must have travelled nearly 2 miles! Dr Andy, the divemaster, made sure we stayed together as a group (there were 3 other divers on the trip) and that we saw what was down there - 3 sharks and 7 eagle rays on just the first run!
The starting depth is around 35ft, and my computer (which didn't like the dive at all - it kept beeping at me) registered a max depth of 61ft. The bottom is hard rock covered with sea fans, sponges and small corals. As you get into the dive the bottom becomes pock-marked with large holes, and Andy did his best to get us in as many as possible. Once in the holes you are somewhat out of the current, so can catch your breath and look around. Many of the holes are packed with lobster, parrot fish, and big queen angels.
The visibility isn't great, since the rushing water stirs up the bottom. We made the dive on an incoming tide, which Andy said is a cleaner run than the outgoing tide. The fast-moving water also tests your photography skills. I managed to get a couple of shots off of the sharks as we flew past them, but positioning yourself in the water at speed isn't that easy!
This is not a dive for the inexperienced or those who avoid 6 Flags! It is an amazing dive, however, and one I will remember for a long time.
The Current Cut. Shooting the Current Cut was a big thrill back in the 70s. Divers from around the world came to stay at the Current Club Hotel on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas to experience flying underwater.
A decade ago a powerful hurricane pushed the Current Club Hotel into the ocean and blew the scuba destination off most people's wish list! However, Valentine's Dive Center is now taking experienced divers on the ride of their life back at the Current Cut.
Eleuthera Island is a skinny but long island. Just north of the tip of Eleuthera is a small uninhabited island known as Current. It comes by its name naturally, when the tide comes in or goes out, the forces of nature push millions and millions of gallons through this narrow channel in jig time!
Keeping track of the tides is easy work for experienced sailors. Valentine's waits until the tide is really ripping and it drops divers into the water in such a way that the current will push them through the Cut at speeds approaching ten knots. Dive teams go into the water two at a time, each buddy team takes along a float so that the boat can follow their progress underwater.
What is it like taking a giant flush past two islands? There may be better drift dives elsewhere in the world but this is one Bahamian that is guaranteed to thrill. At a depth of 50 to 60 feet divers will whiz over a pock marked bottom, filled with trees and bits of the long gone Current Cut Hotel. Large fish, oblivious to the strength of the current feed on smaller prey forced into the holes by the rushing tide.
On a good dive a buddy team can make three passes through the Cut. Best to go when the tide is going in rather than out, because there is less sediment being flooded through the passage way. Don't bother bringing a still camera, the current is so strong that it is impossible to hold anything steady against your mask.
Divers planning a Current Cut expedition should ask to be dropped along Shark Alley. On our dive through the cut we coasted by a blacktip shark feeding on a school of fish.
Valentines shop, located on the nearby idyllic Harbour Island, tries to discourage inexperienced divers from riding the Current Cut. Visitors who prove they have the ability to make this mildly challenging dive will find, like the other Out Island dives, to be truly memorable.