North Sound is the largest protected bay on Grand Cayman Island. While large, fairly well-protected and easy to navigate, many boaters never even enter the area when visiting Grand Cayman. The anchorage at Marine Park off Georgetown is more popular, though there can be rough when winds clock out of the wrong direction.
Inside North Sound are a variety of marinas and side creeks that afford protection and facilities. In the northwestern side of the sound, there is Morgans Bay, which has a couple of marinas, one with repairs. Farther south on the west side of the sound is Governors Creek, which is home to the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, a full service facility, and an anchorage that is the best protected on the island. Red Bay, in the southern section of the sound, rounds off the rest of the facilities.
The entrance to North Sound is visible in the image above, just below the winding length of the offshore reef in the upper right hand of the image. The lower tip is Bakers Cay, where you can see boats transiting the inlet if you look in closer using the image browser zoom feature.
Approaching from offshore, you may have a hard time sighting Grand Cayman Island due to its relatively low height above water (maximum elevation 60 feet). Most radars will catch the island about 18 to 20 miles out, and you should be able to see fringes of the island by eye within 10 miles or so, depending on weather and wave height. Boatswain Point Light is located just east of Boatswain Bay (northwest corner of the island - located out on the far point in the image above) and has a 15-mile visible beam offshore. Once you have picked up the island and are within 10 miles, you must announce your arrival on VHF Channel 16 to Port Security.
The entrance into North Sound can be problematic in strong northerly winds, but the small gap just east of Barkers Cay (about 2 miles east of Head of Barkers Point) carries consistent 7- to 10-foot depths. The only warning offered about this entrance is that it is in constant flux, with coral reefs growing in different directions each year, storms moving sand across channels and current charts being unreliable.
From N19 24.462 W81 19.684, head south toward the North Sound Inlet on a course of 203 true for three miles. Keep in mind that the entrance to North Sound is ever-changing, and there are no marks to help guide you in. The deepest water is located toward Bakers Cay, and the course above should help lead you through the deeper water. You must however, keep a vigilant lookout for coral outcrops and mind your depth sounder carefully.
Clear of the entrance to North Sound, you can proceed through North Sound itself, keeping a lookout for shallow areas and coral outcroppings. The current chart for this area is quite inaccurate, sources report, so if you are in doubt as to what course to take at anytime, give the port authority or one of the local are dredged for entry. Remember, too, that you must first clear customs in Georgetown before stepping ashore on Grand Cayman (see our Georgetown Overview for more information on checking in).
See our Local Notices to Mariners blog for updates on the latest conditions and advisories for this area.