Michael and Susan left Florida in April 2007 aboard their Westsail 43 INFINI to fullfill a dream of full time cruising. They completed their circumnavigation in June 2017.
5-3 Exploring New Bight
We started walking in the rain to the Hermitage (I'll explain that in a minute) and were picked up by a kindly sole who drove us to the entrance. Actually, the walk from the beach where we landed the dinghy to the site wasn't that far, but with the rain coming down fairly hard we were appreciative of the lift. The Hermitage is a mini-monastery built by Father Jerome (aka Monsignor John Cyril Hawes,1876-1956) who was a Church architect, building cathedrals in England, Australia and the Bahamas. On Cat Island, he built the St Francis of Assisi Church, the Holy Redeemer Church as well as his retirement home, the Hermitage. The latter sits upon Mount Alvernia at a height of 206', the highest peak in the Bahamas. He lived there 17 years and this served as his spiritual retreat, having been built by hand using native materials. The buildings and furniture are all simple and non-decorative, as if to put the supplicant in closer touch to his surrounds and God. The views from the summit are beautiful and one can climb past the stations of the cross up the fairly steep terrain to reach it. A sundial greets the visitor at the top. The cathedral bell sits in the bell tower which was hit by lightning a few years back. Several small out-buildings serve as kitchen and pump station. The bedroom comprises a small plank for the bed and the tiny chapel is also a simple affair but very moving. Other than the mockingbirds singing, there was no other sound except the wind. As said above, a very spiritual place. Afterwards, we walked down the hill and explored the waterfront area. There's a newer, green-colored building with toilets and a shower for visitors; I can't think of anywhere else in the Caribbean or Bahamas, or anywhere for that matter, that provides such a luxury. We ate lunch at the Sunshine Cafe, where we enjoyed conch fritters and baked chicken. After, Pompey Johnson treated everyone to an impromptu Rake & Scrape on his concertina. His two daughters accompanied him, playing a cowhide covered drum and saw/screwdriver rhythm section. Fun music on the island whose inhabitants think theirs is the best Rake & Scrape of all the Bahamas. When we got back to the boat, I stripped down the Yamaha 15 outboard as it was running rough and was difficult to start. I cleaned the carburetor and fuel pump and changed the spark plugs. It started right up and sounded good, but some late afternoon squalls are rolling thru so we'll have to take a test run tomorrow.