I first came across the immensely sad, but intriguing story of Donald Crowhurst when he was mentioned in the book, A Voyage for Madmen (a book I’ll write a little more on later).
Over this past weekend, from The Times article about Alex Thomson, I was fascinated by this quote:
More people have been to space than sailed solo nonstop round the world.
I followed up with a tweet about a book about this amazing story about how Donald Crowhurst did, but didn’t really, sail around the world.
Donald Crowhurst (1932–1969) was a British businessman and amateur sailor who died while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Crowhurst had entered the race in hopes of winning a cash prize from The Sunday Times to aid his failing business.
Instead, he encountered difficulty early in the voyage, and secretly abandoned the race while reporting false positions, in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually circling the world. Evidence found after his disappearance indicates that this attempt ended in insanity and suicide.
Following on from the “Voyage for Madmen” book I then found The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall. The description of the book from that link is as follows:
In the autumn of 1968, Donald Crowhurst set sail from England to participate in the first single-handed nonstop around-the-world sailboat race. Eight months later, his boat was found in the mid-Atlantic, intact but with no one on board. In this gripping reconstruction, journalists Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall tell the story of Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage.
I found the story of Donald Crowhurst very appealing for some reason, and this book gives a brilliant reconstruction of what is thought to have happened him.
This book, even more so than the other sea-based books I’ve been reading recently, is probably for a more off-beat taste, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely worth a read.