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No cannibal rats, but Teignmouth Electron was South Devon's very own ghost ship

By HEGuyH  |  Posted: January 24, 2014

  • Donald Crowhurst

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OUR story about a drifting 'ghost ship' full of cannibal rats heading towards the Devon coast went worldwide yesterday.

It was the tale of the liner Lyubov Orlova, missing at sea since breaking a tow in the Atlantic last year. Speculation that the drifting, empty liner might be heading our way prompted lurid headlines, with ghost ship experts saying the ship may be home to hundreds of rats, starved of food and feeding off one another.

The Lyubov Orlova may never turn up, of course. She may have sunk long ago in the Atlantic seas. She could be anywhere.

But the story has prompted discussion about other ghost vessels found at sea, including the Teignmouth Electron.

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Donald Crowhurst sailed from Teignmouth in 1969, taking part in the first single-handed race round the world. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, another former South Devon resident, was favourite to win the race.

But as the racers logged their positions at sea, reporting in by radio at a time long before sophisticated GPS positioning, it appeared that Crowhurst was closing in on the favourite.

However, his voyage was a sham, and Teignmouth Electron was eventually found drifting and abandoned in mid-Atlantic.

Crowhurst's logs revealed his anguish, and the fact that he had spent eight months out in the Atlantic, fabricating his details.

It is thought that he jumped overboard. He was never found, and Teignmouth Electron is believed to be somewhere in the Cayman Islands.

Colin Firth and Kate Winslet were recently reported to be in very early discussions about starring in a film based on the Donald Crowhurst story.

The actors, both Oscar winners, have read a screenplay by Scott Burns, and Firth would portray Crowhurst with Winslet playing his wife Clare.

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