In early October, I asked for feedback on the book cover design for “Good Morning Diego Garcia.” Comments kept coming in, and all indicated, the designs weren’t quite perfect. We needed something different. So my husband (Doug DuBosque) and I put our heads together and started over. Thanks to your keen observations and super suggestions, Doug created a new, exciting book cover. At the same time, he created a new cover for The Lullaby Illusion.
Congratulations to all who commented! You are winners and will receive an e-copy of the book as soon as it’s released. THANK YOU!
It’s an exciting time for me. I’ve finished writing my new book. The editor is now going over it with a fine-tooth comb. Like a flea comb? LOL!
The book is about my journey to India and on to Sri Lanka in 1975 to help crew a yacht across the Indian Ocean in monsoon season. We ended up, way off course, in Diego Garcia where the yacht got stuck on a corral reef. Then journeyed on to the Seychelles.
Would love your feedback on the cover. Which should I use?
And why? Or do you have other ideas?
I will send five helpful respondents a complimentary e-copy of Good Morning Diego Garcia when it is published.
Something serendipitous happened to me yesterday. I often seem to make fortunate discoveries at the right moment. Perhaps that’s because I learned to think in terms of serendipity early in my life.
My great aunt Gladys, a world traveler, introduced me to the word. I loved saying “ser·en·dip·i·tous!” It had a lyrical sound, expressing imagination in a beautiful way. Aunt Gladys explained its origin in a Persian fairytale called “The Three Princes of Serendip.” Sons of Jafer, the philosopher-king of Serendip (ancient name of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka), King Jafer insisted his sons receive the best book education from the wisest men in the kingdom and required them to travel far and wide in order to learn life lessons first hand by observing the customs of other cultures. So they traveled, not in search of riches but rather in search of fortunate discoveries about life through their keen observation. A journey of discovery.
Until yesterday, my new book (about my travels to India, Sri Lanka, Diego Garcia, and the Seychelles) had a working title of “Sandalwood Sanity and Diego Garcia–A Journey of Discovery” But yesterday while working on notes from my travel journal., I realized I had heard radio announcements coming from Diego Garcia days before actually seeing land. My scribbled notes were about a DJ named Aceman who broadcast live reports from American Forces Radio Diego Garcia at 1475 AM. After treacherous days at sea crossing the equator, Aceman’s announcements kept hope alive of reaching land and being able to make repairs on a badly damaged yacht. My notes also detailed “crushed coral paved roads” on the island. While researching the coral paved roads, serendipity led me to a site where sailors stationed there in 1975-76 reminisced about life on the boot-shaped atoll. Sure enough the roads were paved with crushed coral. One entry on the site was from Aceman and it showed his email address. I was thrilled as I always wanted to thank him for his fun broadcast.
I sent Aceman an email and received a prompt reply. He is indeed the DJ who said, “Good Morning Diego Garcia!” In light of this new serendipitous discovery, my book will now be titled, “Good Morning Diego Garcia!” Thanks Aceman!
Sandalwood Sanity and Diego Garcia–A Journey of Discovery
by Susan Joyce
Excerpt from Chapter 12
Indian Ocean, July, 1975
Soon after dawn the following day, a frustrated Dylan made several attempts to get a read on our location with no success. The skies were darkening and black clouds billowed over a choppy sea. I watched him go back and forth trying to figure out where we were. I also noticed he tapped the barometer often.
“Why does he do that?” I asked Charles.
“If it goes down fast when tapped,” Charles answered, ” it means a storm is coming.”
“Oh,” I said.
Sometime later in the day, Dylan announced, “Strong winds are taking us further east than planned.”
“Are we lost?” I asked. Lost at sea. I shuddered at the thought.
“We’ll get back on course,” Dylan said, trying to calm my concern. He grabbed a cup of coffee and headed back up on deck.
Seconds later, he called for Jake to help him lower the sails. “Twister, heading our way,” he yelled.
Jake ran up the stairs.
“A twister could capsize the Zozo,” Charles said bounding up the stairs after him.
I followed and tried to help. Sudden squalls could sink a boat. We were all acting fast to lower the sails and secure them with ropes. I knew quick action was the only way to keep a boat under control during severe weather.
Sails lowered, we went back downstairs to the galley. Dylan closed the hatch to keep the wind and rain from causing damage inside the boat.
“A sudden gust can topple any sailing ship,” Mia said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you can’t react fast enough to match the sudden change in force.” Charles explained. “Unless you keep a close watch of changing skies.”
“A sea twister like a cyclone on land, right?”
“Yes, it appears as a whirling column of air and water mist. A funnel cloud,” Charles said. “And can be quite destructive when the water spouts swirl.”
I could hear the ferocious wind blowing and see the sea rise higher. Two visible water spouts were sucking the sea water.
“Glad we’re not outside,” I said.
More lighting strikes as we heaved back and forth with the ship in the raging sea. When the worst of the twister had passed, Dylan opened the hatch and climbed up on deck to take his turn standing watch for other ships or obstacles in the area.
Not knowing where we were and with sails down, Dylan decided to let the winds take us where they pushed until the storms cleared.
The men kept constant vigil during each watch. Charles mentioned that the cross bar on the main mast kept plunging into the water, then jolting back to the other side when the ship rolled side to side with the mountainous waves. “Keeping watch is the only thing that keeps me from losing my mind,” he said.
“Not exactly pleasure yachting,” I said. I knew he was having a hard time dealing with the tense situation.
“Watching the course indicator and other instruments keeps my mind occupied,” he replied.
“Opportunity of a life time?” I asked.
“What was I thinking?” he muttered, questioning his original thoughts of a fun high seas adventure.
“It will be opportune, when we survive.”
Charles shivered. He looked pale.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Just weak from lack of food and sleep.”
“These squalls and waves are overwhelming,” I said.
“It’s difficult to sleep knowing how easily a boat can tip over.” Charles added.
“Let’s hope Zozo’s hull is as great as Dylan claims.”
Charles nodded. “If it takes in water, it will sink. And it will happen fast.”
“A matter of seconds, minutes?” I asked.
“In an instant.” He snapped his fingers. “No time to grab a life jacket or launch a raft.”
We looked at each other and sighed. Charles bowed his head.
“It is disheartening,” I said. “Hard to think clearly. But I think we’ll make it.”
“I hope you’re right.”
The ultimate struggle for survival happens mentally,” I said.
Charles looked at me as if I were a stranger.
“Have you had one of your crazy dreams?” he asked.
“Several,” I answered.
“I’m sure they’ll teach us the ropes; how to hoist, and lower sails. Should be easy. Tomorrow,” he said, heading to bed, “we’ll book our tickets.”
“The Cyprus book can happen later. After our return,” he said, kissing me good night.
“Good night” I said. “Think I’ll read for a bit.” Instead I found myself thinking about life and the places it can take you, if you’re open to an adventure. I thought about the influences that move one forward and the obstacles that hold some people back. I remembered the cocktail party friends had in their home to welcome us to LA after the Cyprus War. Lots of interesting, high powered people in the entertainment industry welcoming us into their world. Many mentioned how they wished they could leave it all behind and explore other countries; all had a great excuse for why they couldn’t possibly leave their comfort zone.
Wonder why Charles didn’t want to finish the book? Perhaps he couldn’t? I enjoyed researching and writing. It was a challenge trying to figure out the unknowns surrounding the coup and subsequent Turkish invasion. Maybe Charles wasn’t free to tell his story. If so, why wouldn’t he mention it to me? Was he protecting me by not telling? I pondered that possibility. Oh well, I thought, tomorrow I’ll research Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, pleasure yachting, how to handle sea sickness … and how to avoid drowning at sea. Just in case.
I opened the book I had checked out of the library earlier that day. It was written by Jess Stearn, an author who explored the hidden dimensions of man’s mind. I had read a book by him some years ago about Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet; a book about an American psychic, a clairvoyant who could, under hypnosis, diagnose physical illness, prescribe cures, and even see a subject’s past and future lives. I had found it comforting after a near death experience following routine surgery in LA years ago. The book explained many things to me—like astral projection, near-death experiences, out of body experiences, and reincarnation. The Search for a Soul: Taylor Caldwell’s Psychic Lives by Jess Stearn had me hooked from page one when writer friends Stearn and Caldwell are at a social event, debating the concept of reincarnation. She is adamant about not believing in it. He says he is skeptical, but open to the idea. Caldwell is a best selling, award winning author of historical fiction; Stearn is a best selling author of works on spirituality and psychic phenomenon. Stearn is convinced that Caldwell’s brilliant books are a sub-conscious recollection of her own previous lives. She makes light of his suggestion; pooh-poohing the idea, and agrees to go to a hypnotist and be hypnotized to prove her point. In session after session, Taylor Caldwell tells of the many lives she has lived and all seem related to the “fictional history” accounts in her books.
Fascinating. I thought, placing a bookmark into the book.
I went to the kitchen sink, turned on the water and began cleaning the wine glasses. I found myself staring out the window, into the dark of night, imagining being out in the middle of the vastness of the Indian Ocean somewhere. Seemed profound and overwhelming.
I was introduced to La Cuisine Seychelloise in August 1975, after a private yacht I helped crew docked in the port of Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles on the day after the Assumption Day festivities had ended.
By late morning we received clearance from the port authorities, and my husband and I were allowed to step ashore on the tropical paradise archipelago of the Seychelles. We had spent thirty days of mostly hellish weather in monsoon season crossing the Indian Ocean (from Sri Lanka to Diego Garcia) and another week of battering storms from Diego Garcia to the Seychelles. Physically and emotionally drained, we asked the English Captain to give us permission to disembark in Port Victoria. Knowing he needed crew to sail on up through the Suez Canal, he was reluctant to let us go. But knowing we were unhappy about the weird things happening on board between him and his crazy Israeli girlfriend (that’s another story!), he finally agreed to give us our passports and allow us to leave the yacht with our belongings. Prior to this adventure, I knew nothing about Maritime law and a captain’s supreme authority to do just about anything he wants, including not allowing passengers to leave the ship.
Grateful to touch solid ground again, I took a few deep breaths and shed happy tears. No more rubber sea legs, sea sickness, and no more being chained to the railing when working on deck. We had somehow managed to survive storm after storm, giant wave after walls of giant waves, and were now free to walk about on earth again. In paradise no less. Our first stop was the bank to exchange money. Next stop, lunch at a restaurant in the harbor! Real food? What a treat! Our eyes of course were bigger than our stomachs and we ordered more than we could possibly eat. We asked an Australian couple, dining at a table near by, for lodging recommendations. They immediately referred us to a private B & B owned by Eveline Man-Cham. “Her cooking is the finest,” the woman told me. “The country’s traditional cuisine. Creole cooking! You’ll want to eat there all the time.”
After lunch, and receiving numerous tourist tips from the waiters and other diners, we hired a taxi to take us to Mrs. Man-Cham’s place. We checked in and were given a snack of fried breadfruit cakes with afternoon tea. I oohed and aah-ed, and asked for the recipe. Mind you I didn’t have a clue what breadfruit was but Mrs. Man-Cham was happy to show me the breadfruit trees and explain the variety of ways the Seychelloise used it in cooking and baking. She invited us to join them for dinner before we left to explore the nearby beaches.
“I’ve prepared ladob patat for dessert,” she said as we were leaving. I obviously looked confused. She smiled and added, “sweet potato pudding.”
“Sounds delicious,” I replied. “We’ll join you.”
I spent hours walking along the beautiful white sandy beaches letting the topaz water tickle my toes. No one in sight. Heaven on earth! My husband enjoyed snorkeling and we sat on the beach and watched a glorious sunset.
Later that evening we enjoyed an exquisite dinner. Mouth watering delicious, from the Soupe de Tectec ((clam cooked in tomatoes, garlic and ginger), to the Gros Bourgeois de L’Ile Mahe (baked snapper with sauce), to the Cochon de lait rÙti (roasted pig), served with the Salade De Millionnaire (palmheart), followed by a Beignet de Giraumon (Pumpkin Donut), and last but not least the Ladob Patat.
We tried a few local restaurants during our three week holiday in the Sychelles, but always returned to Mrs. Man-Cham’s for the finest Creole Cuisine Seychelloise (a mix of Chinese, Indian, and French flavors).
On the morning of our departure, Mrs. Man-Cham presented me with a copy of her cookbook, 4th Edition 1973. I’ve treasured it all these years and often use her recipes.
Her son, Sir James R. Mancham became the Founding President of the Republic of Seychelles when the country became an independent sovereign State on the 29th of June 1976. Sometime later, I heard on the news that when he went to England, to attend the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, he was deposed in a bloodless coup. A bloodless coup? Now that could only happen in paradise.
The closest I got to the wilds of Africa was in August, 1975 when a yacht I helped crew from Sri Lanka sailed into the port city of Victoria on Mahé —the largest island of the tropical paradise archipelago of the Seychelles.
After eight treacherous days of heavy weather and a turbulent crossing, from Diego Garcia (the top secret British-American military base in the Indian Ocean), we sighted the Port Victoria beacon. “Yea!” the crew cheered. We tried numerous times to reach the port authorities by radio, but no one answered. According to our calendar it was a holiday—Ascension Day. Having lost our anchor and not wanting to get beached on a corral reef, as we had in Diego Garcia, we let down our sails and drifted for the night. Luckily, it was a calm night.
The next morning, we tried again and again to make radio contact. No luck. Surely they had received word from the British Rep in Diego Garcia that we had no charts to guide us into port and no anchor to sit it out. We waited a few more hours, then tried again. In full view of this idyllic island, bobbing in a gorgeous bay caressed by the turquoise waters of Mahé, I didn’t even entertain the idea of ascending into heaven. I longed to simply step foot on this paradise on earth.
After many unanswered calls to the port authority, our captain decided we must make our way into the safety of the inner harbor before dark and find some way to tie onto something. Seeing no one in sight, we drifted in. Surely someone would meet us as we entered.. A man came running out along the dock, waving his arms and yelling, “Go, go back out to sea and wait until tomorrow.” Megaphone in hand, our captain explained our dire situation of not having an anchor on board. The man listened, then agreed we could tie onto a buoy near the dock and wait out the night.
So wait we did. And after many weeks at sea, that night I dreamed of eating fresh fruit and walking barefoot along the white sandy shore.
New book details the harrowing personal journey of a young
American woman facing seemingly insurmountable situations while living in the Middle East and Europe. After many miscarriages and the loss of a child in childbirth on the island of Cyprus, Susan seeks solace by creating art and recording her vivid dreams. Through difficult life changes—Cyprus’s bloody coup and war in 1974, a rescue from a sinking ship in the Indian Ocean, learning
of her husband’s secret life, and surviving his deadly assault in Belgium, she discovers her “ticking clock” is not the child she fails to produce, but rather her creative potential.
Following her vivid dreams and intuition, she successfully reinvents herself as an artist and writer. From beginning to end, Susan Joyce reminds us of the stream of awareness that flows through all of us.
Early reader reviews show it resonates universally with men and women:
A hell of a tale…
— Mark Mercer, Writer
Amid the gripping account of her final days living in Cyprus as war broke out and bullets flew past, what moved me most was Susan’s spirit through the difficulties life throws at her. This true story gives honest insight into the complex emotional turmoil we all experience for various reasons, and shows how it is always possible to see the positive and build our life afresh exactly as we choose to live; not to long for what might have been. An uplifting, inspiring and triumphant story.
— Jennifer Barclay, Author, Falling in Honey
…like riding the roller coaster of life, exciting and engrossing, funny and sad. A real page turner. I was sorry to read “The End.”
UK announces new feasibility study into resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory
MercoPress, 9 July 2013. The British government announced to Parliament that it will commission a new feasibility study into the resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory, BIOT, whose indigenous population the Chagossian was removed in the sixties and early seventies for defense reasons and is an issue that remains highly controversial and sensitive.
Wow! I thought reading the headlines from MercoPress. Resettlement of the remote coral atolls in the Indian Ocean? After all these years? Why now?
A flashback in time… 1975, when I first viewed the bay of the largest Chagos Island—Diego Garcia.
A private yacht, I helped crew, got stuck on a coral reef and capsized. Our crew was reluctantly rescued by the British and American navies. Although civilians and women in the military weren’t officially allowed on the island, the British governor invited all of the crew to dine with him at his home. We women went first, showered and later dined, wondering all evening why the male members of the crew didn’t arrive for dinner. The governor said he didn’t know what happened to them. He assured us they would come later. Much later, we returned to the yacht. The men were furious. Seems the governor wanted to have only women guests that evening.
Several days later, after repairs, we sailed on to the Seychelles and spent several weeks enjoying a real paradise.
What I didn’t know, at the time, was the brutal history of the Chagos Island. After landing in the Seychelles, I started hearing stories from natives about how NATO had forcibly removed the entire population. Descendants of African slaves, the original Chagos Islanders, were expelled and relocated to other islands in the area, so the British and Americans could have a secret military base in the remote center of the Indian Ocean—a listening site for NATO, a place to refuel bombers, and later reportedly used for the infamous American ‘renditions.’ This military base has been crucial to U.S. military strategy for the past 25 years, and has functioned as a launch pad for bombing raids in Iraq and Afghanistan. A great location to wreak havoc on people most British and Americans don’t know, or care, exist.
This ignorance serves the needs of multinational (i.e., extra-national) corporations to extract resources for profit, regardless of the human costs among humans who apparently don’t count. So why now, would the British government care about restoring the island to its original inhabitants?
In 2016 America’s 50-year lease on the island of Diego Garcia expires. The option to extend the leasing rights must be agreed upon by December 2014. At issue is the question of sovereignty.