In Cheryl Bartlam Dubois’ book, West of the Equator: In Search of Paradise, there’s surprising synergy between fact, fiction, and real life.
This seafaring yarn, full of universal life lessons, humor, romance, adventure and island lore, joins the library of recommended reading for anyone who has ever dreamed of chucking it all to pursue true happiness in "paradise.”
It’s also great fun for those who have already experienced the kind of "real" Caribbean that can often lurk behind the hype. But amid the misadventures that can only be found in the tropics, the entertaining commentary, and the in-depth sailing knowledge, I found myself sometimes distracted by typos. I asked the author about them. Her answer? “Hurricanes!”
It seems that Mother Nature has a long standing grudge against the author ever since Dubois managed to have someone totally reconstruct her beloved boat –good as new-after infamous hurricane Luis sent it flying to land upside down in Simpson bay harbor.
"I felt as if my child had died at the hands of that storm," Dubois says. She decided to repay that temperamental woman of the seas by reconstructing the true story of her friend Randy West’s Hurricane Lenny survival tale in her book. The vivid storm segment is a turning point for main character Rob, a novice sailor, who ends up defeating a force five hurricane in order to save the love of his life.
Mother Nature, offended at the very notion, bided her time until Cheryl’s labor of love was about to be published. Then she dealt a vengeful double whammy (Katrina and Wilma) onto the novel’s publishing house. The ensuing calamities and power outages caused an old electronic file of the book (unedited and un-proofed) to be sent on its way to print.
"I didn’t have the heart to tell them to discard over 4,000 copies! It was such a waste!" Dubois says. But, as in the fictional story, there proved to be an upside to the unexpected turmoil. Thanks to the typos, she got to know her readers. Well-meaning folks alerted her to the mistakes by email and snail mail. She has forged important friendships through the exchanges and would never have met these people if not for the hurricanes. Mother Nature doesn’t always get the last laugh.
An eagle-eye edited second printing is due soon, and the movie based on the book begins shooting down here in the spring. Get the original version while you still can at www.westoftheequator.com for a great read—typos and all.