From John Caldwell (letter:) “At the end of the war I returned to school in Santa Barbara, now a branch of the University of California. I graduated in sociology, and worked for two years as a social worker in Los Angeles, but city life in a suburban home could not match the call of far horizons. We sold everything and bought a 36 foot catch, Tropic Seas, and said, what the hell, let’s go! But then we had a four-year-old son Johnny, and Mary was expected, but we sailed anyway. That was 1952. Our first passage was 45 days San Diego to the Marquesas islands. On to Moorea, the Samoas, Fiji, where Roger was born…then New Caledonia, and Australia in 18 months of cruising. We sold Tropic Seas in Sydney, and took six years to plan and build a larger boat which we named Outward Bound, then on for a year through the great barrier reef to Thursday island and Darwin, across the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island, Coco Keeling, Diego Garcia, Seychelles and Aden in the Red Sea. We tacked 28 days to the Suez Canal, than eight months cruising the Mediterranean to Gibraltar, and a 19 day crossing of the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Barbados. From Barbados the Windward Islands was only a jump of 100 miles, and we found a new home in a string of islands like jewels running north to south, with steady trade winds blowing west to east–an ideal cruising ground, just what we had searched the world to find.” Caldwell (Calder in the novel) leased Prune Island in the Grenadines from the government of St. Vincent for $1 a year for 25 years, plus 12% of future profits, then spent 30 years with a wheelbarrow and the help of natives on Union Island, planting thousands of palm trees, renaming it Palm Island. His sailing adventures were legendary. Read “Desperate Voyage,” about his sailing across the Pacific alone into storms after WW2. The book was optioned by Burt Lancaster’s company before Burt suddenly died. Then an independent filmmaker optioned it. Nothing came of it. He next fought off renegades who’d taken Union and came for Palm, helping the Marines during the Grenada invasion. Turned down an offer from Trump and others to buy the property. “Anytime my wife and I say hello, that’s a Board Meeting,” he said. He showed Barbara Streisand around. Also hoped to “get it done.” Then he died. Amazing story, amazing life…largely untold. So I wrote a novel based on his story, and have updated it with a Powerball hook. Two wins. A win/win. Order any of my paperbacks and get the audiobook free. Order the audiobook and get any of my ebooks free.
It’s so sad, the fire around Alpine AZ…I was just telling my sister what an incredible place that is…so pristine, little traffic, vast forests…I saw a wolf and then a family of 7 deer in the road. I had just driven through there on my way back to SC for the summer, and was warned by someone at a gas station not to take highway 191 up to i40 because of all the switchbacks (“it’s a huge waste of time” he said). I took the road anyway, and was amazed….one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever seen. Didn’t pass a single car the first 50 miles, heading north through mountain wilderness. When I came to Alpine it was so incredible I was even wondering how it might be possible to live there, and then I pick up the paper here in SC the other day, and see that it’s about to be engulfed in flames. So sad. I just can’t imagine driving back that way and seeing all those trees now only ash. I thought of Avatar, and hope this wasn’t caused by some careless camper or arsonist.