Serranilla Bank [NA-132] & Bajo Nuevo Reef
by Wolfgang Schippke, DC3MF


The Serranilla Bank is located in the mid of the Caribbian Sea on 15N55 and 79W54. The Bank is about 40 km wide, 32 km long and dotted with several small islands and cays, most of them spare vegetated with bushes and some trees. Most of the reef is drying and hundrets of wrecked ships are located into its vicinity. Beacon Cay is the biggest islet on the reef, completely overbuild with houses and some military facilities, used by the US Mariners during the Cuba Conflict. The station is abandoned today.
In 1510 the Serranilla Bank was first shown on Spain maps. On the top of the Cuba Conflict, the US Mariners build up military facilities and a lighthouse on Beacon Cay. The reef was returned to Columbia in 1982. Today it is sayed the the cays are used by the Columbian drug-cartell as a base into the Caribbian. Today the cays are frequently visited by lobster fishers. The Serranilla Bank Lighthouse, inhabited today, stands on a corall ledge near 15N48 and 79W50, in the southwest approach to the bank. The lighttower is 65 ft high and a circular metal cylinder with a red top. Serranilla Bank is owned today by the military and any stay and landing needs a special permit

Bajo Nuevo is a small reef with some small islets, covered with grass, and claimed by Columbia. The reef was a part of the US military and was returned to Columbia in 1982.
Bajo Nuevo was re-discovered by the British Glover in 1660. Bajo Nuevo is about 26 km long and 9 km wide. The most prominent cay is Low Cay, 300 m long and 40 m wide. The reef was first shown on Dutch maps, dated to 1634, but first shown by here present name in 1654. In 1985 an American Expedition went to Bajo Nuevo in order to look for treasure ships. No more was heard about the 12 people. Till now it is unknown, if they found a treasure and went into the underground, or if they were murdered by pirates, operating in these area.
Today the cays are frequently visited by lobster fishers. A Lighttower, 69 ft high, stands on Low Cay (15N51, 78W38). Low Cay is about 5 ft high and barren. It is composited of broken coral, driftwood, and sand.
(The newest Mariner Pilot reports, that Bajo Nuevo is claimbed by Honduras and since some years not longer adminstered by Columbia. The light is adminstered now by he Hondurian Coast Guard.) Bajo Nuevo Bank is owned today by the military and any stay and landing needs a special permit.