[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
I finished the Donald Crowhurst book some days ago but have only just got around to putting my thoughts together. It's an interesting book and well worth reading if you have any interest in sailing in general, sailing round-the-world, or what can happen to people who are isolated from others for a long time.

I thought the authors did a good job of trying to put together Crowhurst's state of mind, although I think they overlooked his head injury as a possible contributor to his psychotic break. If his dopamine levels were already elevated, it might not have taken much of the Dexedrine known to have been on board to take him to the break point. As Crowhurst talks repeatedly of working long hours and/or through the night, it's possible he was taking the Dexedrine at times.

His desperate attempts to contact his wife made me very sad. Maybe if they could have talked, things would have ended differently. The poor guy was obviously looking for a way out right from the start.

The thoughts he wrote down after his break reminded me very much of Philip K. Dick's Exegesis. Not surprisingly, I suppose, as both were probably dopamine-fuelled. And the whole 'if you believe it, it will be true' approach that I discussed in an earlier post does seem to have been instrumental in events.

Talking to my father about the book, I discovered that he was at Cambridge with Nicholas Tomalin, and even knew him, slightly. Dad says Tomalin was a nice guy.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
I'm a little surprised that Tomalin and Hall waited until they were some two hundred pages into writing the strange voyage of Donald Crowhurst before mentioning that Crowhurst's mother was a Jehovah's Witness. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them that this might be highly relevant to his state of mind.


If you're trying to understand someone's tendency to magical thinking, a religious upbringing might just hold some clues.

Not that we're not all prone to magical thinking. But imo religion tends to foster it, as otherwise reality and belief are intellectually difficult to reconcile. And there's no doubt that Crowhurst had a strong intellect, as well as an enquiring mind. He also had, apparently--and ironically--a well-formed conscience. Only magical thinking could reconcile such a man to a concerted campaign of deceit. And religion supports magical thinking: if you believe something hard enough, it will be true.

Poor guy.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
the strange voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall.

Don't ask me why the title is in lower case. That's how it appears on the cover.

This is an old book, first published in 1970, and turned up in the secondhand section at the back of the local bookshop. I recognised Crowhurst as the chap who set out to win a round-the-world yacht race but lied systematically about his position. Eventually, his abandoned trimaran was discovered. No trace of Crowhurst was ever found. This book attempts to reconstruct what happened, drawing on sources including Crowhurst's own log and interviews with friends and family.

It's an oddity perhaps but round-the-world sailing interests me. I've accumulated a number of books on the subject, including Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World. What has always stuck in my mind about Slocum's book is his scattering drawing pins on the deck of his boat to deter thieves. However, my father came up recently with the recollection that Slocum had written about boiling his alarm clock (essential to navigation) in order to get all the grease out of it and make it work properly. Dad then went on to boil a padlock that had been giving him trouble. It worked, too. Although padlocks are not, generally, useful in navigating.

Also hanging around the house in the hope that one day I will read them are:

Log of the Centurion by Leo Heaps;
The Incredible Voyage: A Personal Odyssesy by Tristan Jones
Carteret's Voyage Round the World 1766-1769 edited by Helen Wallis, in two volumes.

And probably some more that I can't lay my hands on right this minute.

(infer another rant here about my GR account)

The name Claire Tomalin in the acknowledgements struck a chord of memory. She's the biographer who wrote the Dickens biography I got for my birthday last year and also the biography of Jane Austen I got my father for his birthday last year. She and Nicholas Tomalin were married until his violent death in 1973. An unexpected connection there.

This is another book with history. On the title page, it's inscribed: 'Christmas 1970 With Much Love Janet'. We'll probably never know who Janet was or to whom she gave the book way back then, or how it ended up on a shelf in a small bookshop in a small market town.


The Little Dog Laughed

January 2019

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