Donald Charles Alfred Crowhurst — July 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. Soon after departing, his ship began taking on water and he wrote it would probably sink in heavy seas. He secretly abandoned the race while reporting false positions, in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually doing so. His ship's log books, found after his disappearance, suggest that the stress he was under possibly led to his suicide.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Ron Hall. Jonathan Raban Introduction. The Sailor's Classics library introduces a new generation of readers to the best books ever written about small boats under sail In the autumn of , 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 gr The Sailor's Classics library introduces a new generation of readers to the best books ever written about small boats under sail In the autumn of , Donald Crowhurst set sail from England to participate in the first single-handed nonstop around-the-world sailboat race.
In this gripping reconstruction, journalists Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall tell the story of Crowhurst's ill-fated voyage. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 14, Barbara Roden rated it it was amazing. The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is an extraordinary, moving, and harrowing book, haunting in every sense of the word, and a terrifying look at one man's descent into madness.
Tomalin and Hall have done a brilliant job in recreating not only Crowhurst's voyage, but what led him to the position he found himself in: alone in a tiny boat in the middle of the Atlantic, facing two equally bleak choices: return home, admit defeat, and lose everything, or continue with his desperate voyage a The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is an extraordinary, moving, and harrowing book, haunting in every sense of the word, and a terrifying look at one man's descent into madness.
Tomalin and Hall have done a brilliant job in recreating not only Crowhurst's voyage, but what led him to the position he found himself in: alone in a tiny boat in the middle of the Atlantic, facing two equally bleak choices: return home, admit defeat, and lose everything, or continue with his desperate voyage at the risk of almost certain death. The glimpses of Crowhurst's tortured mental state, taken from his log books, make for unsettling reading, and the authors have done such a good job interpreting and decoding them that readers will almost feel that they were there on the deck of the Teignmouth Electron as Crowhurst made his final, fateful decisions.
Highly recommended. Mar 26, Rebecca Skane rated it it was ok Shelves: book-club , nonfiction , europe , biography. This could very well be the most boring book I've ever read. What a slog. Feb 17, Christopher Saunders rated it really liked it Shelves: reads.
The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst tells the disturbing, darkly engrossing story of a yachtsman who entered a round-the-world race sponsored by the Sunday Times, gradually lost his mind, then disappeared, leaving his ship adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This incident's occasionally lumped in with the Bermuda Triangle, since many readers find supernatural wackiness more compelling than human tragedy. Journalists Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall provide a detailed reconstructio The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst tells the disturbing, darkly engrossing story of a yachtsman who entered a round-the-world race sponsored by the Sunday Times, gradually lost his mind, then disappeared, leaving his ship adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Journalists Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall provide a detailed reconstruction of Crowhurst's voyage, showing him as a mild-mannered, slightly eccentric English businessman who lighted onto yachting as a hobby, then contrived a massive fraud with forged log books to puff up his reputation and save his floundering company.
Unfortunately, swindle gave way to madness, with Crowhurst descending into rambling speculations about human nature, the meaning of Life and the Universe, leading the authors to conclude that he probably committed suicide in hopes of achieving actualization.
They never quite settle on what drove Crowhurst mad - whether the seeds of personality prone to mild exaggeration matured into outright dementia under stress, whether loneliness at sea or the failure of his audacious hoax destroyed his mind - which makes the story even more unsettling than it already would be.
A captivating read and cautionary tale, albeit one that raises more questions than answers. Nov 22, Mrs B rated it it was amazing Shelves: nautical , human-condition. I can't say enough good things about this book, which I've read three times and which is a desert-island treasure for me, along with only a handful of others. It is massively moving -- the poetry written by Crowhurst, found in his trimaran's logbook, is not only affecting which is more important in poetry like singing than any kind of technical perfection , but is also especially important in revealing yet another facet of this riveting and beautifully told real-life drama.
Crowhurst's moral I can't say enough good things about this book, which I've read three times and which is a desert-island treasure for me, along with only a handful of others.
Crowhurst's moral dilemma is the dilemma of an essentially fine man, but a man that is not particularly privileged and finds himself hard up against certain realities: I like him. Very much. And I love the details, the by-now period feel of the time and of the book, and the 'players' that reacted to him and tried, with varying success, to bolster him up.
Once met, never forgotten He was not your ordinary sort of man, and this is not an ordinary sort of book. Note about the co-authors: Ron Hall was directly involved in the Golden Globe single-handed sailboat circumnavigation race that led to Crowhurst's trouble; Nicholas Tomalin was a journalist, killed by a missile while covering the Yom Kippur War in His widow, Claire Tomalin, is also a writer, and has written a biography of Jane Austen.
View 2 comments. Feb 26, Scott Foshee rated it it was amazing Shelves: boats , sailing , cruising , circumnavigation. It was found ghosting alone in the North Atlantic near the end of the Golden Globe nonstop singlehanded sailboat race around the world. Its sole inhabitant for days, captain Donald Crowhurst, was never found.
In the era before GPS and global satellite tracking, sailors' logbooks were relied upon for verification of routes travelled. Crowhurst, the dark horse darling of Teignmouth England, had two sets of logs - one for race officials carefully calculating his route around the world, and another showing his actual route, sailing in circles for months in remote areas of the Atlantic ocean.
Thousands upon thousands of words in Crowhurst's personal journals were also found, documenting his slow spiral into insanity during the race. To most of the public Donald Crowhurst was a successful businessman, loud and brash, highly intelligent and outwardly confident in all of his ventures.
He had a wife and family in England and big plans. Privately, however, his business was failing. He was very familiar with Sir Francis Chichester and his world famous singlehanded trip around the world on Gypsy Moth IV making one stop in Australia , and when the Golden Globe race was proposed, Crowhurst saw an opportunity. The singlehanded nonstop race around the world offered two prizes - one for the first to finish, and one for the fastest elapsed time.
Since the beginning of the race was open for several months, two winners were possible. If Crowhurst could take one of the two prizes, probably the one for fastest elapsed time, the prize money could go towards propping up his business financially and the publicity, he was convinced, would make it a success.
The only problem was that Crowhurst was just a marginal weekend sailor with no boat and no backing. Through sheer force of will Crowhurst raced against the start deadline of the Golden Globe and somehow landed a sponsor. He helped design - in - a futuristic trimaran with an electronic "computer" that he was sure would break all records. The boat, christened the Teignmouth Electron, was built on a crash schedule and launched literally at the last minute without being fully tested and without Crowhurst's newly designed electronics in place.
With his trademark confidence he said that he would finish it at sea. Once the boat was in the water Crowhurst, sailing alone, discovered that the promised speed of the trimaran, a revolutionary design in the late 's, did not materialize. The hastily designed vessel performed poorly under Crowhurst's inexperienced hand, but he would not - or could not - admit defeat. If he quit the race he faced humiliation and financial ruin. Halfway down the Atlantic heading towards the tip of Africa he began plotting two courses.
One course was his actual position, and the other was where he should be if he stayed on schedule. He radioed in cryptic reports, even claiming a new 24 hour sailing speed record. As he neared the southern ocean he claimed that he was having generator problems and would have to maintain radio silence to conserve his batteries.
He then went silent for several months. His planned hoax seemed to be to sneak back into the rear of the field as it rounded the tip of South America and headed home to England.
Crowhurst gave up hope of finishing in one of the two first place positions, but he believed that if he at least finished his race log books would not receive the scrutiny of the winners and he would gain the credibility to keep his creditors at bay and allow him to build a better boat for the next race.
Meanwhile he made an illicit stop in a small town on the coast of Argentina for much needed supplies. Robin Knox-Johnston was the first to finish the race in April Then problems for Crowhurst began mounting as other competitors began dropping out. Bernard Moitessier was having such a good time in the Roaring Forties that he decided to drop out and circle the globe again.
He eventually did 45, miles solo and ended up in Tahiti. Crowhurst slipped in behind Nigel Tetley as he headed north from Cape Horn, the only other boat still in the race at this point, and re-established radio contact.
Tetley's boat was failing but he pushed it to the breaking point as he neared the finish believing that Crowhurst was tight on his heels. Tetley drove his boat too hard and ended up having to abandon ship on May 30, leaving Crowhurst as the only sailor left in the race and the guaranteed winner of the prize for time elapsed. All he had to do now was finish. Crowhurst was greatly conflicted about causing the end of Tetley's boat and the enormity of his hoax finally hit him.
If he finished now, in first place for the elapsed time portion of the race, his logbooks would be heavily scrutinized.
The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst
S imon Crowhurst was eight when he saw his father for the last time. He remembers going out with the rest of the family in a motor boat, to the yacht his father was sailing around the world. Simon was nine when he learned his father had died. Then she broke down in tears. On 31 October , the last day the rules allowed, he set off in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race , a competition to be the first person to sail nonstop single-handedly around the world. He was underprepared and underfunded; his 35ft boat was unsuitable and leaky, no match for the monster waves of the Southern Ocean.
The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst : Now Filmed As The Mercy
The Sailor's Classics library introduces a new generation of readers to the best books ever written about small boats under sail. In the autumn of , 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.
This is a wonderful book about a truly remarkable, moving and literally tragic misadventure. The Bard himself could not have scripted a tragedy better than this. His plan to win, cobbled together from a standing start in six months, is to use an at the time almost unheard-of design: the trimaran, substantially of his own specification. No matter that, a weekend yachtsman, Crowhurst has never been out of the Solent and has no realistic chance of beating the hoary old sea-dogs, renowned explorers and ex-navy officers already signed up for the race.