THE Donald Crowhurst saga took another twist 30 years ago when his ill-fated trimaran Teignmouth Electron suddenly turned up on a remote Caribbean island.
The craft was battered and rotting, and thought by many to be haunted.
She was discovered virtually intact, languishing on the small island of Cayman Brac in the British West Indies.
The fading name was still plainly visible on the hull, and was found by Bath geography teacher Ian Murray while working in the area.
He was so fascinated by the whole Crowhurst saga he spent days tracing the history of the trimaran and chatting to the owner Winston McDermot, who used her for diving trips.
Mr Murray declared in 1991: ‘Winston is convinced she was haunted. Crew members down below would hear footsteps on the deck, and one watchman would only venture aboard wearing a gold cross and chain.
‘Winston often did the night watch himself because his staff were reluctant to go aboard at night. He found it spooky and heard the footsteps regularly, simply learning to ignore them.
‘I was only a lad when the Crowhurst story broke, but I read all about it when somebody gave me a copy of The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst. It was a great coincidence when I discovered she was lying not far from where I was teaching at the time.
‘It is a shame to see her rotting away. I am sure Winston would listen to any proposal to bring her back to Teignmouth as a tourist attraction. Hew hopes she will have more of a future than to fall apart from neglect and that somebody will restore her.’
Mr McDermot had owned the boat since 1978, but laid her up on the beach when other business interests took priority.
Mr Murray discovered that Crowhurst had had secret compartments built in the hull, which was not generally known at the time.
The yachtsman filled them full of provisions he could easily get at if the boat overturned.
One of the cupboards was opened and the emergency rations found intact There were believed to be other similar concealed compartments that were untouched.
A campaign to return the craft to Teignmouth came to nothing.
The tale has become one of the legends of the sea, spawning countless books and articles, two feature films and various documentaries.
Crowhurst cheated in the solo around the world race in 1969 by not leaving the Atlantic, and suddenly found himself in the lead when others dropped out. He was heading home to a hero’s welcome, but realising he would be exposed as a cheat when his logs were checked, probably decided to end it all by going overboard.
The trimaran was found drifting in the Atlantic by a passing cargo ship, and his body has never been found.
The beached Teignmouth Electron and inset, Crowhurst aboard the boat in its prime.