Sir Francis Chichester’s Yacht Grounded

Satellite photo of Tuamotu Atolls where the yacht is grounded
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Gipsy Moth 1V, the yacht Francis Chichester sailed around the world in, lies holed on a coral reef surrounding the largest of the Tuamotu atolls, Rangiroa, with a possibility of tropical storms forecast for the week ahead.

The historic 54ft yacht is currently making her second circumnavigation of the globe after Sir Francis Chichester took her on that voyage 40 years ago.

Three British teenagers on an 18-day sailing adventure break with a charity had to be rescued from the UK Sailing Academy Gipsy Moth IV yacht after it ran aground on a coral reef near Tahiti.

The teenagers, a 16-year-old from Cowes, and two others, aged 16 and 18, from Manchester, were rescued along with three crew members on Saturday evening, when the vessel ran agronud.

'These deserving, young people had been selected to partake in one of the legs of this voyage.' said David Green, CEO of the sailing academy.

'It's a two-year project sailing around the world. We specialise in introducing young people to the great outdoors through sailing.

'We are hoping to be able to get the boat back into deep water in daylight.

'Our intention will be to conduct such repairs as necessary and continue with our voyage.

'This was not our intention that their passage would be curtailed but they are in high spirits and looking forward to coming home to tell their stories.'

Contacted via HF Radio Falmouth Coastguard liaised with the crew and local emergency services to arrange for a local boat to take five of them ashore while the skipper stayed on board on Sunday morning.

Sir Francis Chichester completed his single-handed trip around the globe onboard Gipsy Moth IV in 1967. Before embarking on her latest trip in September last year the yacht underwent extensive restoration in Gosport, Hampshire.

This area has been the graveyard of many boats, including Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki.

Variable strong currents and sudden storms make cruising in this group of islands extremely hazardous, because the atolls are only a few feet above sea level and breakers only become visible at close range. Nevertheless, it is not clear how Gipsy Moth ended up on the reef, in good weather condition, as the entrance passage to the lagoon is quite navigable.

Gypsy Moth IV setting off
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Antonia Nicholson, skipper of Gipsy Moth IV, is a Yachtmaster Instructor with the United Kingdom Sailing Academy.

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