Cat Island…near the Hermitage

Our next stop after our long stay in Long Island was for a short stay in Cat Island to the North.  Cat Island is typical for this stretch of the Bahamas, in that, it is a long, slightly curved piece of land that runs generally southeast to northwest and has little protection from the West and few or no anchorages on the east side.  That makes Cat Island a tough place to linger unless you don’t mind having some rough nights at anchor.

Cat Island has its share of “boiling holes” (lakes that connect to the ocean through a series of caves and caverns) the interesting thing about the lakes here is the variety of local superstitions and folklore about the denizens of these lakes.  One has been rumored to be the home of Mermaids, while another, home to a sea monster, due to bubbles and burping sounds caused by the tides. Dead animals dumped into the lake would also be drawn into the caverns by tidal changes and would sometimes wash up on the oceanside beach, which was credited as the activities of the sea monster.

We anchored in an area called the “New Bight” which is just south of the “Cat Island” label on the satellite image.


image courtesy of Google Maps


That area is well known for the Hermitage, a monastery designed and constructed by a Franciscan priest named John Cyril Hawes, (1876-1956).  Hawes, was an architect who designed and constructed church buildings in England.  Hawes became a Franciscan reverend and from 1903-1911 was posted to a church in the Bahamas.  Hawes left the Bahamas (and the Franciscan church) in 1911 and spent several years in the United States where he roamed the country and worked different jobs.  Hawes converted to Catholicism, studied to enter the Catholic priesthood in Rome and was ordained in 1915.  He worked in Australia until 1939, when he retired from the church, he returned to the Bahamas and constructed the Hermitage.  It is unclear why he was commonly referred there to as Brother Jerome. He was buried in a cave under the Hermitage following his death in 1956.

It is an impressive structure, located on a hill originally named “Como Hill”.  It was renamed Mt. Alvernia in honor of La Verna hill in Tuscany and is the highest point in the Bahamas.

The final path to the hermitage has several “stations”

If you look closely….you can see the blurry image of Kitty Hawk behind the white house…this was the view from the Hermitage.

The details of the stations are impressive…..even the model of the tomb of Jesus has a small enshrouded body within it.

The ceramic plaque on the outside of the remote kitchen……A rough translation…”praised my Lord through Brother Fire”

The small remote kitchen for the Hermitage.

We made a quick overnight stop at Fernandez Bay after two bouncy nights at the New Bight anchorage.  Fernandez is a small, somewhat more protected spot just around the point and a few miles North of the New Bight.  It is home to a small resort with a very nice restaurant.

Up next, don’t miss the horrors of Little San Salvador ……

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I'm the average sailor...converted from a landlubber of course. While I was born with a love of the ocean it has evolved into a love of sailboats and other vessels that ply the open seas and connected waterways. I am probably like most of the people who (hopefully) will read our blog with the exception that we are now doing what we always dreamed of doing and I hope to help others do the same. I am NOT any of the following...a naval architect, a marine surveyor or connected commercially to any builder, distributor or boat sales organization. My opinions are generally my own, although influenced by many years of research.

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