Gipsy Moth Circles the World
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From time immemorial, few narrative genres have had the power to so stir the emotions or captivate the imagination as the true account of a lone adventurer's triumph over the titanic forces of nature. Among the handful of such tales to emerge in the twentieth century, one of the most enduring surely must be Sir Francis Chichester's account of his solitary, nine-month journey around the world in his 53-foot ketch Gipsy Moth IV. The story of how the sixty-five-year-old navigator singlehandedly circumnavigated the globe, the whole way battling hostile seas as well as his boat's numerous design flaws, is a tale of superhuman tenacity and endurance to be read and reread by sailors and armchair adventurers alike.
First published in 1967, just months after the completion of Chichester's historic journey, Gipsy Moth Circles the World was an instant international best-seller. It inspired the first solo around-the-world race and remains a timeless testament to the spirit of adventure.
Francis Chichester's 1967 singlehanded circumnavigation set a blazing record for speed. He completed the voyage with just one stop and 226 days at sea. It was an amazing performance; that he was sixty-five years old made it the more so. Chichester then sat down to write one of the great narratives of modern voyaging.
"A remarkable feat, a moving story of conquest by the unquenchable human spirit, a determined old man's gesture of defiance at the modern world. Such was the voyage; his book is a fine account of it with nothing left out."--Alan Villiers, Saturday Review
unfortunately I had not then got used to having glass in the middle of the deck; it was slippery, wet with spray, my feet shot from under me and, owing to the heel of the boat, I came down a most colossal crash on my thigh. The pain was intense for a while, but eased as I finished off the job and put the boat back to her mooring. I found a purple-black bruise about five inches in diameter on my thigh but the pain went off, and I went about my ordinary business, with no pain or trouble for four
brake would not work, so I had to dive down under the cockpit, head first and feet up, to fix the thing. I didn’t enjoy these upside-down antics, and I felt horribly seasick. By 18.00 I was becalmed, but the calm didn’t last long. There was a dense roll of clouds above the horizon, and wind began coming in from the south, at first lightly, but soon blowing up. By 19.00 it was coming at me in a series of savage bursts. At first I ran off northwards at 8 knots, then I took down all sail and lay
was enough for one day, and I turned in. A depressing sun sight next morning (February 2) put me only 124 miles from Sydney, which I felt must be a record for slow going. The weather forecast offered a promise of slowly moderating sea and south-east winds, which were at least better than winds dead on the nose. There was nothing for it but to get on with the job of clearing up. I tackled the mess on the port side of the cabin, which was harder than working to starboard, because the yacht was
think, truly reflected my feelings in the early hours of that morning, I decided to leave the yacht as she was going for the moment and go back to sleep. I stayed in my bunk until nine o’clock, when I got up and unreefed the spitfire jib, thinking that a scrap more sail would steady the boat. It did, and also increased her speed a little. Then I thought about breakfast, and was annoyed to find that I couldn’t have any wholemeal toast because I had run out of bread. I breakfasted instead on Ryvita
the north, and the wind came back and pushed me off to the north-west. My arm continued to give me much pain. I don’t like taking drugs of any sort, but that night I gave in and took another codeine. The curious thing was that not only did it ease the pain of the elbow almost right away, but also the elbow seemed better in the morning because of it. I made a later start because I had been up almost every hour to trim sails during the night, but then I got down to more major work on the