‘Shoestring sailor’ Rose’s round-the-world epic still enchants, 50 years on | Andy Bull

The solo adventures of Alec Rose, minding his own business on the seas while the press struggled to work out where in the world he was, attracted a reported 250,000 for his return

There were two reasons why Alec Rose wanted to sail around the world. One was to visit his son who lived in Melbourne, the other was the simple matter of having done it. Rose was 59 at the time, and working as a greengrocer in Portsmouth. He left on 16 July 16 1967, and got back 354 days later on 4 July 1968. They say there were more than a quarter-of-a-million people waiting for him on the day he landed. The voyage made him one of the most famous men in the country and earned him a knighthood. Sir Alec was absolutely baffled by it. “What,” he asked, “have I done to deserve this?” He went back to work at as greengrocer.

Related: From the archive, 8 August 1966: Francis Chichester sailing against ghosts

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