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Deep Water

Dec 13, 2007 Still playing in U.S. theaters (I just got around to seeing it) is the British documentary Deep Water, the story of the 1968 Golden Globe Race, the first singlehanded, nonstop around the world sailing race. The focus of the film is Donald Crowhurst's tragic story. For voyagers, this is a compelling effort well worth your time. Crowhurst's story is both a fascinating account of one man's battle with his demons and something of a cautionary tale on both the physical and psychological pitfalls that can overtake a solo sailor. Of course, most of us are not attempting to sail singlehanded, nonstop around the world on a boat that clearly was not ready for such a voyage.

If you see Deep Water, not only will you be amazed at the poor quality of the media in 1968 (journalism may not be any better, but at least the sound is in stereo and the picture in HD), but you will have a new appreciation for how far boats and marine technology have come since the late sixties. Towards the end of the documentary we see archival film (more fuzzy, black-and-white footage) of Sir  Robin Knox-Johnston arriving in Britain at the end of the race. His boat Suhaili is a beaten-up, rusty mess. Modern composite and stainless steel technology doesn't make anyone a better sailor than Sir Robin (that would be pretty hard anyway), but it sure makes the boats look better!