Mens Talk

Saturday, July 31, 2021

About the Mysterious Case of Donald Crowhurst, the Lonely Sailor

About the Mysterious Case of Donald Crowhurst, the Lonely Sailor


This time in the Talk category session I will discuss About the Mysterious Case of Donald Crowhurst, the Lonely Sailor.

He was a sailor who died while competing in a race around the world. His ship was found sunk and he was presumed to have committed suicide.

However, the reason behind his death is very sad and makes us question whether isolation (in this case being in the middle of the ocean) can affect human psychology and plunge them into the abyss of despair, even make them hallucinate?

About the Mysterious Case of Donald Crowhurst

The man whose real name is Donald Charles Alfred Crowhurst was born in 1932 in Ghaziabad, India which was then under British rule. Donald's own family worked for a railroad company owned by the British colonial government.

There is a sad story when Donald was born. His mother at that time wanted a daughter so badly that it is said that her mother often dressed Donald in women's clothes until he was 7 years old. After India gained its independence, his family who were foreigners in India were expelled from India.

Not only that, all their belongings were lost overnight when their company caught fire due to riots during Partition India.

Sadness seemed to never disappear from the Donald family. Not only did he fall into poverty, in 1948 his father died and left his family further in financial decline.

He was forced to drop out of school and start working in the British Air Force in 1953. Because of his achievements, he was later appointed a pilot. However, in 1954 he was expelled from the military, I do not know for what reason.

In addition to being a pilot, Donald apparently has a hobby of sailing. He was an accomplished captain and even expert in designing an invention called the navigator, which is a type of radio that can be used as a navigational tool. Wanting to introduce his findings to the wider world, he started a company.

But this business had to go bankrupt. After his failure in this business, the only way for him to earn money was to enter a competition called The Golden Globe Race.

If he manages to win this competition, then he will get a prize money of 5,000 pounds. That much money will certainly be able to overcome all the economic difficulties that he and his family are experiencing.

But to take part in the match, he also had to invest in building a ship fit for sailing around the world. To finance his ship, he was forced to mortgage his house so that now he has nothing but hope of winning the race.

Donald Crowhurst and The Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race itself was inspired by the success of Francis Chichester, a navigator who traveled the world alone. The requirements for the competition are very simple. Armed with only a sailing ship, the participants are required to sail around the world alone.

Participants can start from any starting point, as long as they can sail up to 360°. As an additional condition, the ships they were on were not allowed to dock or stop anywhere along the way.

Contestants are required to start the race between 1 June to 31 October 1968 and whoever finishes the race the fastest will be the winner. The route has also been determined, namely through the southern oceans, namely the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Obviously, to the inexperienced, sailing around the world alone in only a small sailboat was a suicidal plan. Of course, for that reason, not many people dared to volunteer to enter the competition.

Only 10 people dared to accept the challenge, including Robin Knox-Johnston, Nigel Tetley, Bernard Moitessier, Chay Blyth, John Ridgway, William King, Alex Carozzo, Loïck Fougeron, Bill Howell, and of course Donal Crowhurst. Even one of the participants, namely Bill Howell, then resigned in the middle of the trip because of the tough challenges he had to face.

The ship used by Donald was a modified 12 m trimaran called the Teignmouth Electron. This type of ship has never been used for a voyage around the world so its victory is doubtful.

Although the speed was indeed high and also stable in the vast ocean, there was one problem. If the ship capsized, as if hit by high waves, it was almost impossible for the ship to return to its original position, so the people on board would be trapped and drowned. We can conclude that the risk that Donald must face is very high.

To solve the problem, Donald added buoys around his ship to prevent the ship from sinking. The float can be inflated or deflated as needed with the help of sensors. If the water flow is high, the sensor will activate and inflate the float to protect it from accidents.

The technology is relatively new and Donald is very proud of his invention. If this plan was successful, then not only would he receive the prize money from the competition, but he would also be able to sell his equipment. Even if the ship is mass produced, he will also benefit from the patent.

But unfortunately, the race deadline is getting closer and he is running out of time to finish his ship. Even more worrying, Donald had never driven a trimaran in his life. This makes an experienced sailor named Peter Eden finally voluntarily help Donald to prepare his ship.

He observed that although the ship was able to reach a fairly high speed of 12 knots (22 kilometers per hour), this speed created vibrations that caused the screws on the ship to start loosening.

To keep sailing, Donald had to constantly re-tighten the screws. This of course will waste time during the trip. But overall, Peter is satisfied with the ship built by Donald.

On October 31, 1968, on the deadline for departure, Donald finally departed from England for South Africa and then began his voyage to the Indian Ocean.

But the journey was not smooth. In the first week he could not reach the target he wanted and could only sail at half the speed he predicted.

Donald has only two possibilities now, lose the match and then go home empty-handed (remember, he has mortgaged all the remaining treasure he has left to enter the race) or keep going with the risk that he won't survive if his ship crashes. high seas. Knowing this sad reality, finally around the end of 1968 he began to devise a fraudulent plan.

In the 1960s, as you might have guessed, technology was not as advanced as it is today. GPS had not yet been invented so for the organizers, the only way to confirm the whereabouts of the contestants was through their radio acknowledgment.

Seeing this fact, of course the committee really depends on the honesty of the participants. However, to really cross-check the whereabouts of the participants so as not to cheat, they are required to write a logbook, where every hour they must record where they are, including the islands they pass and the events they experience, including wind speed, weather , etc.

Donald then tries to cheat and has absolutely no intention of actually sailing around the world. When he arrived on the west coast of Africa, he instead wandered the oceans of the South Atlantic until he arrived on the west coast of South America.

He never crossed the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of the African continent. Instead of continuing on his way, he just circled there and radioed false reports about where he was now.

Of course, to prove his lie, he also had to provide a second piece of evidence, namely the notebook he wrote. He thought, it must be really easy to write lies in a notebook because he just needed to read a map and figure out how long it would take him to travel from island to island.

Then when the time came, from South America, he would sail back to England and be victorious. In December 1968, based on his false reports, Donald immediately became the champion for journalists and cruise ship connoisseurs who followed the match.

The reason is from the report, he is in the forefront and is predicted to be the winner of the match. But Donald's lies began to smell by Francis Chichester who was a pioneer in traveling around the world. From his experience, he began to suspect because his movements were considered too fast if he really sailed around the world.

At the time, the real Robin Knox-Johnston was at the forefront where in April he reported that he had finished his race and had arrived where he had started.

But the race isn't over yet, considering Donald started the last race because the races don't start at the same time. So even if Robin finishes arriving first, but if Donald completes his journey in a shorter time, then he is the winner.

Knowing the pressure, Donald became even more stressed and spent hours faking his travel log. This turned out to be more difficult than he thought because the race was overseen by experts like Francis Chichester who would instantly realize his lie if he didn't enter accurate data. This started to make Donald start to stress and began to affect his psychological condition.

Donald Crowhurst's last trip

Changes in psychological conditions after the situation began to become tense, was clearly seen in his log writings, which were actually not organized.

From the results of his writings, Donald is suspected of having paranoia, followed by a psychotic disorder accompanied by depression. The proof, on June 24, 1969, seemed to ramble on by admitting that he had an epiphany where he finally understood how the universe worked.

According to him, humans are just playing material (like dice) from cosmic beings (similar to God, but very different from the concept of God in Abrahamic religion) with demons.

According to him, humans are also capable of leveling up into the cosmos. He believed that if he withdrew from this earthly game, he would enter this world of cosmic beings as an abstract intelligence, where he no longer needed a mortal body.

He claims that enlightenment makes him so happy that he continues to write 25,000 words a week. Until his peak on July 1, 1969, he finally stopped writing. All that was left of that moment was his final confession where he wrote down the hours to the exact minutes and seconds at which he would end his mortal game (allegedly by suicide) at 11 minutes 20 and 40 seconds, the last word being It is mercy.

That was the last time the notebook was filled and no word about Donald was heard again. His ship was later found adrift without being on board, leaving only his original notebook.

While the fake notebook in which he faked his voyage was not found along with the ship's chronometer and why the two objects were missing, there was absolutely no explanation whatsoever.

It is possible that Donald intends to take these items as a memento to the underworld. His ship was allowed to sink in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, Central America, as a sign of the tragedy.

It was finally announced that on July 1, 1969, according to the last date of the logbook, that Donald committed suicide by jumping off his ship. This was probably fueled by his embarrassment at cheating during the race. Even though you could say the time of his death was the last seconds of his victory.

He could have continued his struggle to reach the finish line and become a winner. But there are two consequences he must face if he chooses this path.

First, if he wins and it turns out his lie is exposed, then he will be humiliated, his title will be revoked, and his family can be humiliated and ridiculed for life.

But if he really did win and the lie was not exposed, then he would be wracked with guilt and regret that would continue to suppress his mind. He found the two solutions completely unsatisfactory until he decided to end his life.

His depression was not only influenced by the pressure that was tearing his mind, but also because of the intense sense of isolation that plagued him.

We can imagine, drifting for months in the ocean alone like that, it is clear that loneliness will attack. Especially if there is no communication with other humans, including with loved ones so far.

Clare, Donald's own widow, rejected the explanation. She believes her husband died from being hit by the waves and drowned, not committing suicide by breaking the rules of the race.

Of course it is difficult for a wife to accept that her own husband would do such a thing. There have also been other allegations that Donald faked his death and actually lived elsewhere, but many doubt it.

After that incident, Robin Knox-Johnston became the winner of the competition, a very moving thing happened. He chose to donate all the prize money he got to Donald's widow and children.

Donald's story so captivated the public imagination that it was immortalized into several books and made into films and documentaries.

Even films about Donald were not only made in England, his homeland, but were adapted in France to Russia. Finally, the 2018 film The Mercy, the last words written in his diary, stars Colin Firth as Donald and beautiful new actress joining the Marvel Universe, Rachel Weisz, as Clare, his wife.

What do you think? Is it true that Donald Crowhurst committed suicide because of depression and loneliness. Or did he experience something mysterious that could not be explained by common sense?

What about the cosmic creatures he talks about in his book? These creatures are similar to the Lovecraftian-style gods described in cosmic horror-themed novels.

Was it just a coincidence or did he see something on the high seas that made him believe in the existence of this cosmic creature and the existence of other life beyond this world?

Maybe we won't be able to find the answer because the answer is now buried in the middle of the ocean with the body of the poor captain.

That's my discussion this time About the Mysterious Case of Donald Crowhurst, the Lonely Sailor.