A desperate voyage

Desperate Voyage: Donald Crowhurst, The London Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, and the Tragedy of the Teignmouth Electron
By Edward Renehan, New Street Communications, LLC 2016, 112 pp., $9.95.

By Bob Muggleston
For Points East

In the annals of sailing, there is one story that, as presented by two British writers in “The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst,” stands out for its haunting quality. For those not familiar with Donald Crowhurst, in 1968 this weekend sailor/family man decided to enter the first circumnavigation race ever, rounding all three capes, aboard a flimsy wooden trimaran.

Crowhurst was woefully underprepared and underfunded. He was, in some ways, brilliant, but not necessarily street-smart. He was incredibly complicated. What resulted was tragic and bizarre, but fascinating, too, and has been chronicled not only in books, but also in plays, movies, and even in an opera. The work that investigative reporters Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall produced in 1970 is considered one of the classic books in all of maritime literature.

If you consider these dangerous waters to wade into, you’re right. But Wickford, R.I., resident Edward Renehan has done just that, and admirably so. His reason? “Documentaries produced and interviews published in the years after the ‘The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst’ allow for enhanced insights with regard to several key aspects of the story,” he wrote in the book’s introduction. “I endeavor to make maximum use of all these materials.”

“Desperate Voyage” is a solid account of the Crowhurst story, and it does shed new insight on Stanley Best and Rodney Hallworth, two colorful characters who were integral to the Crowhurst story. These men were hustlers, but not in the pejorative sense of the word. If anything, they were catalysts in the Crowhurst chemical reaction. Crowhurst made his own bed, and unfortunately he lay in it, too. He flew too close to the sun, and his story done right, as it is in “Desperate Voyage,” never grows old.

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