Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

The Ill-fated Night Hawk (Part I)

By Truman Jones

Mr. Darwin Jackson, a well-known businessman, owned a store on the west end of Big French Cay and a schooner named The Night Hawk. He used to ferry stores on his schooner from Belize to the Bay Islands, sailing amazingly fast under full sail.
Most of the supplies used in the Bay Islands came from Belize at the time. This was known as the “bootlegging era,” and Jackson could always be relied on to bring a few cases of good old scotch whiskey in for his customers. Whiskey was the preferred drink of islanders, most of whom were descendants of the English, Scottish, Welch, French, German, and American pioneers who settled on the Bay Islands.

Eventually, the comandante at Coxen Hole seized the Night Hawk and detained Mr. Jackson, accusing him of smuggling contraband. The judge ordered the cargo to be unloaded, but all that was found were several cases of Cosco Soap. The issue was resolved after a couple of weeks, upon which Mr. Jackson and the Night Hawk crew were released… As for whatever happened to the contraband, that remains a mystery. The rumor is that they drank it all.

Mr. Jackson continued his business for some additional years on Big French Caye, and then proceeded to relocate to French Harbor. They were on a hill across from the canal where he built his home and raised his family.

There are numerous theories and rumors as to what happened.

He continued to embark on many other business ventures over the years. In 1960, he built a small store by a bridge called Sidney Bridge, a few hundred feet down from present day cement bridge. As business boomed, he added another room for a meat shop, being a talented butcher as well. He installed freezers to keep the meat fresher longer. Whatever cut you desired, he would cut with a handsaw for you.

Mr. Jackson, a well-liked man, always had a lot of company around him. He added an extra room where his customers and friends could watch him cut meat while they enjoyed a cold beer. With his growing success, he purchased another boat from his cousin Hanow Jackson, a boat builder in Jonesville. The boat was built, launched, and christened the Night Hawk.

After a disagreement between Darwin & Hanow, Darwin took the boat to French Harbor to finish some work on it. Paul E. Dixon, a carpenter known as Dick Dixon, resumed work on the Night Hawk. But on December 19, 1971, Jackson – rushing the schooner’s completion in time for Christmas – launched the Night Hawk for a trip to Belize, and neither he nor the Night Hawk were never seen or heard from again.

There are numerous theories and rumors as to what happened to the Night Hawk, but no one knows for sure.

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