Old Bahama Channel
The Old Bahama Channel is a strait off the northern coast of Cuba and the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago and south of the Great Bahama Bank. It is approximately 100 miles (161 km) long and 15 miles (24 km) wide.
It divides the northernmost bank of the West Indies into two nearly equal parts. To the north and northeast is the Great Bahama Bank and the Bahama Islands; and to the south the bank on which the island of Cuba rests. The Old Bahama Channel is connected at its north-western extremity end to the Florida Straits by two arms, enclosing Cay Sal Bank, of which the northern is called Santaren Channel and the southern Nicholas Channel. It is considered as terminating on the east between Cape Maysi in Cuba, and the Bahamas island of Inagua. However, it can also be considered to include the deep sea which separates the minor banks north of Haiti from this island, so that it extends to the Mona Passage, or the strait between the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The narrowest portion of the Old Bahama Channel is between 22° and 23° North latitude, where its width rarely exceeds twelve miles.
The Spanish colonial trade routes, which originally favored the Old Bahama Channel, shifted to the Straits of Florida (the New Bahama Channel) as it was a safer alternative. In the Old Bahama Channel, ship captains had to pick their way through the low lying cays and shoals of the southern Bahamas.