Located off of the northern end of Eleuthera there is a shallow, jagged reef that extends northeast of Spanish Wells known as the Devil's Backbone. Experienced yachtsmen know that to successfully navigate through this notorious area they'll need assistance from the locals.
Throughout history, The Devil’s Backbone wreaked havoc on many ships, therefore local pilot boats now work to guide visiting vessels through this shallow reef system and into the safe waters off of Harbour Island.
“Little Woody” is one of the most well-known guides in the area. He meets visiting guests outside of the rocky entrance of Devil’s Backbone and then safely and slowly assists with guiding their vessel through the jagged coral reef structures.
While it poses a threat to unsuspecting vessels, The Devil’s Backbone is a unique location in the Bahamas that makes for a great day trip and snorkeling excursion. The diving is shallow in areas ranging from five to thirty-five feet deep. There are various types of coral and reef fish that inhabit this underwater landmark creating a beautiful, tropical dive experience.
Historic shipwrecks around this reef system add to the intrigue while diving throughout this area. Here is a list of some of the shipwrecks you might encounter on a snorkeling or diving excursion near The Devil’s Backbone.
- The William – Captained by William Sayles, while leading the Eleutheran Adventurers from Bermuda, it wrecked during rough seas in October 1648, losing most of its supplies and one of the colonists aboard.
- USS Boston – American 18-gun sloop warship weighed 700 tons and was 127 feet long; it shipwrecked on the north side reef in November 1846.
- The Train Wreck – a barge carrying a train and several rail cars struck a reef during a violent storm in 1865. It sank with the train still on board. The wreck lies in 15 to 25 feet of water.
- The Cienfuegos – this steam-powered American passenger ship was 292 feet long and weighed 2,332 tons. On February 5th, 1895, it ran aground during a strong northwest wind. The wreck lies in 10 to 35 feet of water.
If you're looking to get ahold of a pilot captain or "Little Woody" for assistance with arriving in Harbour Island by boat we recommend contacting him at 242-333-4433 or reaching out to Valentine's resort for additional pilot captain information here.