Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Madness In The Atlantic

Feeding my recent obsession with adventure tales, I've just finished reading this book.

In the end, Donald Crowhurst didn't do much adventuring, as he never made it out of the Atlantic Ocean and didn't see many storms. However, his story serves as a warning against solo sailing, or, for that matter, doing any remote exploration by yourself. (Look what happened to Chris McCandless, subject of Into The Wild.)

I'm not talking about the obvious physical perils of solo adventures:
Sailing up and down the Atlantic for 243 days, alone, with limited radio contact and only one shore visit (with non-English speakers), is a sure way to push an unstable person around the bend. And in Crowhurst's case, it did. Heck, it probably could push a well-balanced person over the edge.

This isn't a book report; I'm not going to give you a synopsis of what happened to Donald Crowhurst. His story is widely available online. Plus, there's now a documentary about him, Deep Water. I hope to see it some day.

What's saddest about Crowhurst's story is how trapped he felt, how he boxed himself into an impossible situation. It's like watching the proverbial train wreck; you're unable to stop it happening. He had many opportunities to stop before it was too late. He could've even sailed to the West Indies, declared himself a renegade and never returned home. For him, too shameful an option perhaps. But at least he wouldn't have gone mad.