The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

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In the autumn of 1968, Donald Crowhurst set out from England in his untested trimaran, a competitor in the first singlehanded nonstop around-the-world sailboat race. Eight months later, the boat was found in a calm mid-Atlantic, structurally intact with no one on board. Through Crowhurst's logs and diaries the world learned that, although he had radioed messages from his supposed round-the-world course, he had in fact never left the Atlantic. In this journalistic masterpiece, Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall reconstruct what happened: Crowhurst's growing distrust of his boat; his decision to attempt one of the greatest hoaxes of our time; his eleven-week radio silence; the secret visit to Argentina for repairs; the lying radio transmissions; the "triumphal" return up the Atlantic as the elapsed-time race leader; the increasing isolation wrought by his deception; and the fantastic ending. The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is both a suspenseful narrative and a psychological casebook of human zeal and anguish. Finally, it takes us to the heart of darkness. This book was originally published in 1970. Heavily publicized in major media (including The New York Times and two U.S. television networks), it was a bestseller, and it left a lasting impression. International Marine issued a trade paperback edition in 1995. The Sailor's Classics would be incomplete without it. Raban's introduction to our Sailor's Classics edition offers an alternative interpretation of Crowhurst's demise. Tomalin and Hall thought that Crowhurst's madness was one of despair. Raban suggests that it might have been the dizzy elation of the manic. Drifting around in the South Atlantic, Crowhurst, a failed businessman, saw himself as Einstein's equal - a man who'd found the Truth at sea. When he stepped off his boat, carrying the ship's clock and his faked logbooks, he may actually have expected to walk on water. The Crowhurst story has a haunting life of its own, and Crowhurst lives on, perversely, as a mythic hero, inspiring the Robert Stone bestseller Outerbridge Reach, a one-man opera called "Ravenshead," a string of radio and TV programs, a rumored film in the making, and a new nonfiction account of that long-ago race, A Voyage for Madmen, written by Peter Nichols (author of Sea Change).show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 134.62 x 213.36 x 30.48mm | 385.55g
  • McGraw-Hill Education - Europe
  • McGraw-Hill Contemporary
  • London, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0071414290
  • 9780071414296
  • 95,838

Back cover copy

"A masterpiece."--"The New Yorker" In the autumn of 1968, Donald Crowhurst set out from England in an improbable-looking plywood trimaran to compete in the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world sailboat race. Although his previous sailing experience was limited, his boat unready, and the electronic gadgetry of his own design unfinished and untested, Crowhurst had managed to persuade first an affluent backer, then the contest judges, and, finally, England's media to regard him as a serious contender. Sailing south through the Atlantic, he radioed reports of record-breaking sailing performances. In the South Atlantic he announced that low battery power would require him to maintain radio silence through the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Eleven weeks later he broke his silence to tell the world he had rounded Cape Horn and was sailing north for England, the elapsed-time leader of the race. Then tragedy struck. Eight months after his departure, Crowhurst's "Teignmouth Electron" was discovered adrift in an eerie mid-Atlantic calm, intact but without her skipper. In this tour de force of investigative journalism, Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall tell the story of Donald Crowhurst's ill-fated voyage. Working from Crowhurst's recovered logs and diaries, the authors reconstruct the events leading up to his disappearance: his first few weeks at sea and his growing distrust of his boat; his attempts to come to grips with imminent failure; his decision to hide out midocean in the South Atlantic, away from the shipping lanes, faking a round-the-world journey; and his final, desperate escape from discovery as the would-be perpetrator of one of the biggest hoaxes in sailing history. From in-depth interviews with Crowhurst's family and friends and telling excerpts from his logbooks, Tomalin and Hall develop a tale of tragic self-delusion and public deception, a haunting portrait of a complex, deeply troubled man and his journey into the heart of darkness. With its first publication in 1970, "The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst" became an instant classic. Sir Francis Chichester, whose record-setting 1967 circumnavigation inspired the 1968 - 69 round-the-world race, called it "the sea drama of the century." Robin Knox-Johnston, the winner of the race, has called it "one of the great classic sea stories." You won't be able to put it down, and you won't be able to forget it. A Daring Hoax and the Man It Destroyed July 1969. After a voyage of 240 days, Donald Crowhurst was less than two weeks from a triumphant return to England, the apparent victor in the first nonstop singlehanded around-the-world sailboat race. All England was preparing for his arrival. But then he disappeared. His boat was found, sailing sedately, undisturbed--but he was not on it. From the logbooks he left behind, Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall reconstructed this extraordinary, deeply unsettling tale. . . . "A virtuoso demonstration of the soul's anatomy."--"New York Times Book Review" "One of the most moving and disturbing books I have ever read. I don't think I shall ever forget it."--"Washington Post" "An analysis of a true anti-hero and a record of human aspiration and human failing rare in the annals of maritime lore."--"San Francisco Chronicle"show more

About Nicholas Tomalin

Nicholas Tomalin, in his thirties when he wrote this book, had already been featured columnist for the Daily Express, the Sunday Times and the Evening Standard of London. He then became literary editor of the New Statesman. In 1967 he was nominated "Reporter of the Year" for his coverage of the Vietnam War. He was killed in 1973 while covering the Yom Kippur war in the Middle East. Ron Hall was joint managing editor of the Sunday Times, which had sponsored the race in which Crowhurst apparently committed suicide. His partnership with Tomalin produced a journalistic masterpiece. Born in England in 1942, Jonathan Raban taught English literature before becoming a full-time writer in 1969. He first lived in America as a visiting professor at Smith College in 1972. A full-time writer since 1969, his books include Soft City (1973), Arabia Through the Looking Glass (1979), Old Glory: A Voyage Down the Mississippi (1981 - winner of the W.H. Heinemann Award for Literature and the Thomas Cook Award), Foreign Land (1985), Coasting: A Private Voyage (1986), For Love and Money (1987), Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America (1990 - winner of the Thomas Cook Award), and Bad Land: An American Romance (1996 - a New York Times Editors' Choice for Book of the Year; winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; winner of the PEN West Creative Nonfiction Award; winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award). Paul Theroux called Bad Land "a masterpiece," and a recent Kirkus review of Raban's newest book, Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings (November 1999), calls him "one of the English-speaking world's great travelers and travel writers." Raban began sailing in the early 1980s. He has sailed alone around Britain and has spent much time afloat on the coastal seas of Europe. Since moving to Seattle in 1990, he sails a twenty-year-old Swedish ketch on the rim of the North Pacific. He edited The Oxford Book of the Sea in 1992. The Guardian has called him "the finest writer afloat since Conrad."show more

Review quote

"The sea drama of the century."-Sir Francis Chichester "A masterpiece."-The New Yorker "Fascinating, uncomfortable reading."-Hammond Innes "Wholly riveting, superbly professional, brilliantly researched, and presented with the sort of critical compassion that is the mark of really fine journalism. It was quite a new sort of book to me, and it cost me an entire night's sleep."-James Cameron "The extraordinary story...Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall...tell brilliantly, with commendable consideration and compassion for all concerned; especially for Crowhurst and his wife Clare, For me their narrative goes with the essential documents of our time."-Malcolm Muggeridge "One of the most extraordinary stories about the sea ever to be published."-The Washington Postshow more