Gipsy Moth IV: a retrospectic view


The rain clouds parted and a ray of fierce, early summer sun suddenly hit Fowey’s wet, stone quayside producing a diaphonous screen of steam which made Gipsy Moth IV appear as a mirage in the Cornish town.

The last time I had seen her was in Suez where hundreds of sinister, black jackdaws flew around her sand-storm encrusted running rigging and masts, agitated that soon their alloy cross-tree perches would be denied them.

The first time I had seen her was in a litter filled hole in the Greenwich waterfront: her cockpit coamings splintered from the well-aimed boots of vandals.

I have said she is an unlucky boat, I have written that she rolls like a ball, that she gripes up to windward constantly, that her decks leak like an old waterbutt, that her cupboards and lockers fly open at random dispensing knives like a circus performer.

I have said that she takes green water in the cockpit that waves sometimes splash down the companionway. I have said that her former Primus stove was like playing with napalm.

But is she really that bad a boat? The answer is simply ‘No’ and that is because she is a traditional wooden boat with all the discomfort, but with all the authenticity of sailing that comes with such a boat. Not one of the sailors on the 200 boats which followed her into Plymouth yesterday will have experienced a voyage as vivid as one aboard GMIV.

Welcome home Gipsy Moth IV and may you strengthen the character of many more youngsters before your timbers start to shiver with terminal decline.