In keeping with the nautical theme of yesterday’s post about ballast…
Last year I watched a fascinating (but very sad) documentary recounting the life and death of Donald Crowhurst and the first ever non-stop round-the-world solo yacht race.
In 1968, The Sunday Times of London announced the first solo, non-stop, around-the-world sailing race. A prize of £5,000 was offered for the fastest voyage. Competitors were required to set sail before October 31 to avoid the fury of a winter at sea.
Donald Crowhurst, a 36-year-old father of four and owner of a struggling marine electronics business, was one of the competitors.
After a slow start, Crowhurst began to radio a series of increasingly record-breaking daily distances to his delighted press agent in England. Everyone was thrilled by his sudden progress, but in reality he was slipping further and further behind his stated position. In his leaking boat, he began a second logbook with a list of elaborately calculated false positions. Eventually he was thousands of miles away from where the rest of the world thought he was.
Nine months later, the race was down to two competitors. When Crowhurst was deemed the certain winner, he began to panic, knowing that if he returned to England, his fraudulent journey would be exposed. Overwhelmed by guilt and unable to face the certain and thorough humiliation of being found out a fraud, Crowhurst detached from reality and wrote one last journey entry:
“It has been a good game that must be ended at the
I will play this game when I choose I will resign the game 11 20 40
There is no reason for harmful”
It is supposed that he abandoned ship on the 243rd day of his strange voyage, jumping overboard and preferring a water-grave to international condemnation.
The revelation of Crowhurst’s deception and demise shocked a nation.
He left his beloved wife and four children.
The great tragedy of this story was that it was completely avoidable. Crowhurst should never have set sail that fateful day in 1968. He had barely any experience in open-ocean sailing, and his nautical skills were akin to the average ‘weekend sailor’.
His persona was one of a confident under-dog. He worked hard to portray an eager and experienced ‘man of the sea’, when in fact he was a frightened and inexperienced ‘man of the safe harbor’. Nothing more than a recreational amateur sailor in way over his head. His personal balast was insufficient to keep him afloat (quite literally).
Are we all too similar to Crowhurst? Can our faith be likened to recreational sailing? Are we happy ‘playing Christian’ in safe harbors during the weekends of our lives.
In case you have been living completely isolated from humanity for the last few months – Safe harbors are becoming less and less frequent on the oceans of humanity.
We simply can’t afford to be ‘weekend Believers’ when our times demand that we become mature and effective followers of Jesus, living with destiny and able to demonstrate our hope to others.