This was an all day sail, very close reach, in 5 to 6 ft seas! Waves were breaking over the bow, cleaning the anchors and covering the decks with “green “water and the Bimini with salt spay. We arrived in New Bight at 18:30 and needed a rest and a couple cocktails! Early to bed, we were looking forward to our hike in the morning.
This stop has been on our list since we started planned the trip. Mt Alvernia is the highest hill on the Bahamas at 206′ above sea level. It is the site of The Hermitage, a noteworthy church built by Father Jerome. He was schooled as an architect and then decided to become a missionary. In 1908 he arrived in the Bahamas to save souls and rebuild local wooden churches that couldn’t withstand hurricane force winds, redesigning them in mortar and stone construction. At 62 years old he build The Hermitage, a scaled down model of European monastic buildings. He remained cloistered in monastic quarters next to his beloved chapel with its pretty bell tower and lived peacefully until his death at age 80 in the mid 50’s.
We started out for our hike early, it was going to be a hot, sunny day. Cat Island, 40 miles long and at its skinniest point is only 1/2 mile wide was known for cotton, pineapple and sisal that grew in abundance and was exported to the US and Europe. Our walk began just off the beach at the ruins of a plantation home dating back to the loyalist migration, the Henry Hawkins Armbrister’s Great House. We saw banana and mango trees sparsely growing across hard scrabble farmland. Much has been reclaimed by locals growing corn, tomatoes, cabbage, and lettuce between rocks and boulders in small pockets of sandy soil just big enough for one plant in each pocket. Sure looks like a hard way to grow vegetables but we learned that most residents have a patch and grow their own to offset the high coat of buying imported vege’s.
All the while eyeing the Hermitage as we got closer, our hike lead us to the base of the hill and up a steep trail that Father Jerome had adorned with stations of the cross. He’d carved steps in the boulders, and made a replica of Jesus’ tomb and roll-away stone. At the top we were surprised to see the size of the structure…..it was miniature in scale but perfectly proportioned. It was enchanting! Disney could not have done better in creating this beautiful site!! Hopefully the pictures will give you a taste of what we enjoyed!!
After that a walk downtown and to another church Father Jerome worked on, which we gained access thru a back door.
Then back to the boats to get out of the sun but Adrien and Brian spotted a reef near our anchor that was calling them to explore…. More snorkeling and spearfishing. Nina’s parting words were documented as ” Adrien, PLEASE leave the Lion fish alone!! I was settling in to enjoy some peace and quiet on the boat, alone…. But before I could even sit down to start reading, he was back. He didn’t listen….. They had speared a Lion fish and while trying to get it off the spear and into the bucket in the dinghy, it fell off the spear and landed on Adrien’s shoulder. He got stung by 6 poisonous quills and it hurt like the dickens! He likened it to getting 6 novacaine shots at the Dentist office. With an internet signal Nina did some quick research on remodies. Apparently the poison is a protein that works its way into bloodstream. For a person with a weak heart it could be deadly. The CDC advertised an 800 number for lion fish stings…. But it was disconnected! Another website recommended treatment was to put a very hot compress on the wound that would reduce the potency of the protein. We started a series of hot compresses but it was becoming more painful and he was loosing feeling down his arm to his wrist. Nina called a marina that referred us to a clinic about 15 miles north of us. Nurse Saunders came to our rescue. She had only seen one other sting a few years ago and the Dr was off island but she called him and drove to the beach where we were anchored. She took Adrien’s vitals and felt we needed to return with her to the clinic. A few more compresses, an anti inflamatory shot in the butt, a 7 day supply of antibiotics, mega doses of Motrin and antibiotic cream and we were good to go. Just $60 and she drove us back to the beach! Hot compresses continued thru the night thanks to Nurse Nina.
Next day was a rough weather day…I guess we were do. Strong winds and rain keep us boat bound and we both slept and read most of the day. The pain had subsided somewhat and we enjoyed Chicken Marsala and a salad for dinner.
A day later we enjoyed a walk in town, a visit to another hurricane destroyed church and a wander thru the New Bight Fish Fry….similar to the one in Georgetown….on the beach, small colorful shacks.
I’d read that this area was the home to the world renowned, father of Rake and Scrape, Bo Hog ( Pompey Johnson) and the Rooters and that they sometimes there played at night. I inquired at one of the shacks, and learned he was sitting right there! He agreed to play for us later that afternoon and we agreed to let the other 6 boats in the anchorage know so they could join us. Adrien dressed his wound, popped a motrin and 6 of us dinked to shore for dinner and the performance…. what a blast! The group was made up of 3 musicians; Bo Hog played the accordion, and the Rooters, 2 young ladies, play the bongo drum and wood saw with a Phillips head screwdriver! They have appeared on the Today Show and played at the Paris Music Festival a few years ago. The Saw lady wasn’t able to make it but Nurse Saunders husband played for a while, then it got turned over to Adrien and I for a turn…. Adrien says the video is worth a thousand words!
Adrien’s turn at the saw. The fellow behind him filled in after Adrien’s turn. We nick named him” Snaggletooth”. He had one pointed tooth up front that seemed to mysteriously fit into his lower gum! He was one happy guy, talked a mile a minute and we couldn’t understand a word he said! Nina bought the group a round of drinks to thank them for playing he became our best friend and insisted we take his contact information. That’s when we learned his name is Smitty Mcdonald!
They played a waltz to make it easy for me but there is an example of the traditional Rake and Scrape.
The next morning, bright and early, Adrien dinked into the beach to meet Bo Hog, who offered to share a few sprays from his aleo plant to help heal Adrien’s wound.
Then we weighed anchor and left for Little San Salvador Island. Another great all day sail gave us a late afternoon arrival into a beautiful white sandy crescent beach. Now owned by the Holland cruise line, they use it as a secluded day stop for their passengers. The island boast horse back riding, water sports, bars and hoards of beach chairs. Its exclusive to the cruise line and is only open when a ship comes in. The ship arrives promptly at 07:30, launches 100 man shuttles and makes numerous trips herding passengers ashore. By 17:00 everyone is back on the ship and its underway to its next destination.
They “let” cruisers come into the Harbor but we are sequestered to the northern anchorage area. With prevailing winds we were rock’in and roll’in all night! We took a walk on the beach at dusk and enjoyed powdery soft white imported sand and snooped around the property the once the ship had left …. just to get a bit of exercise. It’s was an early night and a quick stop. We were off again in the morning as we made our way to Eleuthera.