Time to bring the Gipsy Moth home?

Remember the Gipsy Moth? No, not the pub, but what it was named after, the round-the-world yacht that was once berthed next in a dry dock next to the Cutty Sark. Well, it’s up for sale, and can be yours for just a quarter of a million quid. Sir Francis Chichester sailed around the world in Gipsy Moth IV in 1967 and 1968, becoming the first person to singlehandedly circumnavigate via all three capes. Sir Francis was knighted in Greenwich for his achievement, and after he died in 1972, the boat was placed in dry dock, just to the west of the foot tunnel portal.

To be honest, I don’t remember it being a huge draw – it’s a tiny little thing as well – and as memories of the boat faded, it was lifted out of its dock to little fanfare in 2004. Three years and a full restoration later, it completed a second navigation around the world.

Now it’s up for sale – as the brokers say, half ship, half historic object. Is it time to bring the Gipsy Moth back to Greenwich again – or with the uncertain progress of the Cutty Sark restoration, have we got enough on our plate as it is?


  1. Good question. As you say, it was never a huge draw – no tourist would have been drawn to Greenwich to see what was, frankly, a rather uninteresting yacht. I confess that I didn’t notice that it had gone for several months. Apart from the fact that Sir Francis Chichester was knighted here at the end of his voyage (copying the earlier knighting of Sir Francis Drake), its connection with Greenwich is tenuous.

    Unless some individual philanthropist is willing to put his or her hand in their pocket to foot the bill for its purchase and reinstallation in Greenwich I think we should pass on this one.

  2. I once met the guy who restored the Gipsy Moth IV – or at least put up the cash to do it (it cost him a pound and a gin an tonic to buy, if I recall, and about two hundred grand to restore it…) I don’t know why it’s being sold now – he did it for a charity that helped underprivleged kids to learn to sail – maybe it’s capsized.

    Personally, though it would be good to see it back, hand on spectral heart, I don’t think we deserve it. We have an atrocious record of looking after special boats – they get dry-docked with us, there’s a huge hoo-ha from bigwigs then we just let them fall to pieces.

    Yeah – of course I’d like to see another lovely boat in Greenwich – but I’m not sure it would be the best thing for the boat.

  3. As a local schoolboy, we got a few hours off to wave to the Queen as she arrived to knight Francis Chichester. It was a day I can barely remember.

  4. TGP isn’t too far off with the suggestion of it capsizing – it got halfway round the world after being restored, then hit a reef.

    I think they got it to a harbour and mended it (if so, it was months and months of work) and then carried on, but it all seemed a little quixotic.

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