We are exploring Cat Island in the Bahamas. The eastern side of the island is bordered by the deep Atlantic Ocean, while the western side is a shallow sandy bank extending for 10 miles away from land. The island may have been named after Arthur Catt, a pirate, or the name may refer to its one-time large population of feral cats.
Starting at the small island on the northwest corner of Cat Island, called Little San Salvador, is a beautiful beach in Half Moon Bay, but it is owned by Holland America Cruise Line. They don’t seem to mind if you walk along the beach and the anchorage is almost perfect when the ship leaves in the evening.
Our next stop is Arthur’s Town, which is the childhood home of Sidney Poitier. Cocktails By The Sea is a wonderful place to grab a drink or bite to eat and around town you can find ladies weaving palm fronds and straw into almost anything imaginable. This is true of almost everywhere in the Bahamas and if you visit the country, check out some of the different straw markets to find some unique souvenirs.
Down the island you will come to New Bight and can see the Armbrister’s Great House and the Church of the Holy Redeemer. This church is the last one designed by Father Jerome, who was born John Hawes and left an architecture career in England in order to be an Anglican missionary in the Bahamas for over 10 years. He then became Catholic and was sent to Australia for around 20 years. Throughout his ministry he continued to use his architecture knowledge by building simple yet beautiful churches wherever he was sent. At the end of his life he moved back to the Bahamas and built his hermitage just outside of town on the tallest hill in the country at 206 feet. This stone structure was his retirement home and consists of a personal chapel, kitchen, bed chamber, study, and bell tower. Walking through it you realize he was not a tall man, so watch your head. On the way up the hill he carved the 14 Stations of the Cross capturing the events of Jesus’ last days. This was very high on my list of things to see in the Bahamas and it made the trip to Cat Island worth it.
Now we are going to leave New Bight and visit Old Bight in order to see a couple other church ruins. It is worth walking through these old churches in order to have a look around before we head to the southern tip of Cat Island for Hawks Nest Marina. Here you can take a slip or anchor in the tidal creek if a storm is coming. During calm weather, you can anchor on the bank in crystal clear water 10 feet over a white sandy bottom. The resort has an airstrip for private planes, but the real treat is the fresh water swimming pool.
That is Cat Island in a nutshell. Next issue we will sail through the Jumentos Islands.