At the beginning of December, Donald Crowhurst, the last-departing entrant in the Sunday Times round-the-world single-handed yacht race, began racing
In the middle of November, he had conducted a careful analysis of the faults in his yacht, partly the result of bad planning and bad management and
the rushed departure. One serious potential problem, for example, was that the mechanical pump could not be used to bail out water from the leaky
hull, because a vital length of hose had been left behind. His late departure and impaired speed meant that he would not reach Cape Horn on the return
leg before the onset of the southern winter, while the condition of his yacht meant that he had a less than 50% chance of surviving a winter passage
of Cape Horn. Simply giving up at Cape Town was also a tricky option because of the debts he had incurred.
On the 21st, he had a radio-telephone chat with his friend and chief sponsor at home, Stanley Best. He had prepared notes for a discussion of
retirement from the race, but did not use them. He did give a warning that radio contact would probably diminish, blaming problems with his
From the 6th of December, he was apparently running two navigational logbooks at the same time. One, which he allowed to survive, continues the
genuine navigational record, which he would need for sailing purposes. This shows clearly that he never left the South Atlantic. He would reach the
Falklands in March, after a covert repair-stop in Brazil, and would then sail north again. Meanwhile he was allowing the world to assume that he was
engaged in the expected circumnavigation of Antarctica, and presumably this fictitious journey would have been recorded in the missing logbook.
More direct evidence of fraud has been allowed to survive. He left behind two large plotting sheets covering the period from the 7th to the 11th. One
of them shows the genuine navigational details, with sun-sights etc., of his modest progress past the Cape Verde Islands. On the other sheet, he has
carefully calculated what his daily positions, sun-sight-readings, and so on, would have been
on a slightly different route. "His forgery is,
in many ways, the most impressive bit of technical expertise in the entire voyage. To calcukate backwards from an imagined distance to a series of
daily positions, and from them via declination and other tables to the correct sun-sightings is a formidable and unfamiliar job, much harder than
The point of this exercise was to set up an imaginary "record" single-handed run (243 miles) for the 9th, a record which was duly announced to the
world by radio-telegram a couple of days later.
Source; "The strange voyage of Donald Crowhurst", (ch9), by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall
edit on 9-12-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)