Hannah Emanuel raised a Plymouth Gin and tonic to the beautifully restored boat as she set off on her 28-leg trip round the world.
When Sir Francis Chichester set off in on his famous solo circumnavigation of the globe aboard Gipsy Moth IV, he took a supply of Plymouth Gin with him. It therefore seemed fitting to spend this momentous weekend, four decades later, visiting the distillery, sampling the product (purely for historical reasons) and making my own gin!
The Plymouth gin distillery is one of the oldest buildings in Plymouth, although gin production only started there in 1793, parts of the building date back as far as 1400s, when it was inhabited by monks. The Cocktail lounge is the oldest part, a grade II listed building, formerly the monks’ refectory. Sipping a Go Sloe we marvelled at the ancient vaulted ceiling with its original rafters.
Head distiller Sean Harrison showed us round, taking us through the early origins of gin right through to Plymouth’s latest offering, the Classic Fruit Cup. After a tasting session to identify what it was we were looking for in a gin, we were given an alcohol solution and invited to add various ingredients to make our own. After tasting my disgusting concoction I decided to leave it to the professionals and retreated to the lounge to enjoy a Raspberry Collins. By this time, I was well on my way to getting my five a day, this cocktail is so fruity it almost feels good for you. The evening passed as a bit of a blur.
Finally the big day arrived and the real reason we had all assembled in Plymouth – to celebrate the beginning of Gipsy Moth’s second trip round the world. The project to restore Gipsy Moth IV and sail her around the world again came about when the Maritime Trust and Paul Gelder of Yachting Monthly enlisted the help of the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA) to restore the boat.
In November last year, David Green, CEO of the UK Sailing Academy, paid £1 and a Plymouth Gin & Tonic for the vessel, so it seemed only right to raise a glass of the same to her as she powered out of Plymouth Sound followed by a flotilla of boats including a fleet of four small dinghies. A Gipsy Moth bi-plane circled overhead and she was flanked on either side by a fire tender spouting water in salute and a RNLI lifeboat blazing its sirens in a football style chant.
The atmosphere was electric as the newly restored Gipsy Moth IV set off on the first leg of her trip to Gibraltar. I personally shall be celebrating with her as she arrives at each port on her 28-leg journey, with a Plymouth Gin and tonic. I also hope to be present on her return to Plymouth – arriving a day before her, of course, to sample the ‘new for 2007’ cocktail list at the distillery.
To follow Gipsy Moth IV’s historic journey around the globe, stay tuned to www.ybw.com/ym/gipsymoth/