The Plan
S/V Knight Hawk
Key West, Florida



Every person has his dream and mine is to sail the Caribbean. From the first time I set sail as a boy growing up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts I have thought about cruising those warm, tropical waters, swimming in the jade hued bays among the coral reefs, and visiting the peoples of those islands who's lives I so envy.

Each summer we would sail my friends 18 foot Cape Cod Knockabout around the local bays and venture out into the open ocean whenever the weather was favorable. Sometimes the weather would turn without warning and we would sail this tiny wooden vessel as if she were a 60 foot yacht capable of circumnavigating the globe. Water would come over the small deck and breach the coaming and we would bail her as if we were clearing her bilges after a rain. And each time we were out I would think about the islands that lay so far to the south.

Over the years I've read about those magical islands that dot the charts like stepping stones from Florida to Venezuela. I've read the accounts of others that have gone before me and have written about their adventures. Driven by the trade winds, they have navigated over shoals, past coral heads and ventured into places where most never travel. They have drifted on windless days and been driven hard before howling winds. They have endured boredom and terror at the whims of nature. They have lived life as it should be lived, taking responsibility and blaming none.

As I grew older I managed to crew on larger boats ranging in size from 30 feet to 60 feet, the latter being the "Nina" which sailed out of New Bedford harbor. During the summer we would take lucky passengers for a weekend cruise to Edgartown on the island of Martha's Vineyard. While they lay back enjoying the leisurely passage through Buzzard's Bay and Wood's Hole, I would scurry about the deck trimming sails and securing lines.

While I performed the duties at hand, my mind would travel back in time to the days when the great whaling fleet would pass through those very waters. My soul would soar and mingle with those hearty sailors from so long ago. Their spirit lives in the wind and the waves and you can hear them speak as the bow cuts through the water. Each time we sailed I became closer to those who have left their homes behind to sail, to explore, to become one with their world.

Time has passed so quickly and at some point, of which I can't quite pinpoint the exact time and place, my dreams were transformed into reality. No longer am I reading about the adventures of others to feed my imagination. Now I read to prepare myself for my own cruise. I comb through the logs of other travelers and glean out every bit of useful information, anything that will help me with my own venture. I chat with travelers and plan my transformation from the modern day rat race to the world of cruising.

I have planned to set sail from Marina del Rey, California, where I keep "Knight Hawk" docked and venture down the coast to the Panama Canal, then to the Caribbean and up to Florida. Because I want to experience all of the wondrous places in between, stopping at each little island and fishing village, I have given myself two to three years to complete this journey once started.

Of course I needed to set a time to depart on this adventure and after stalling for some time I have decided on fall of 2011. This should allow me enough time to make the modifications to the boat that are needed and also build up the sailing kitty for the cruise. It's amazing to me just how quickly time is passing and how much closer I am to that goal.

And so there you have it. The plan to cruise Central America and the Caribbean, the time frame that it should take place and the people that are involved in the process. For details of the preparations, modifications, repairs, test runs, etc., you can check the Captains Log, Other Stuff or The Boat.