SHE IS the legendary yacht in which Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe.

Now Gipsy Moth IV is returning to Buckler’s Hard to mark the 50th anniversary of the day he completed his epic 30,000-mile voyage.

The former shipbuilding village on the banks of the Beaulieu River was Gipsy Moth’s home port.

Sir Francis sailed from Buckler’s Hard on August 12, 1966 for trials in the Solent before setting off from Plymouth two weeks later.

After 226 days at sea, stopping only in Sydney, Australia, the 65-year-old sailor returned on September 17 the following year to be greeted by fireworks and other celebrations.

Fifty years on, visitors to Buckler’s Hard will be able to visit the famous yacht and learn all about her record-breaking history.

Beaulieu river hand Kate Mills was on board Gipsy Moth during her recent round-Britain voyage, which was staged to mark the anniversary of her historic trip.

She said: “I read about Sir Francis Chichester’s inspirational story as a child. It was an honour to sail on board for the celebratory circumnavigation.”

Eileen Skinner, a founder trustee of the Gipsy Moth Trust, added: “Just stepping on board the boat really brings home what life was like for Sir Francis.

Weeks after completing his circumnavigation, he was knighted by the Queen.

She used the same sword that Queen Elizabeth I used to knight Sir Francis Drake, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. Unlike his 20th century namesake he was accompanied by a large crew.

As reported in the Daily Echo, celebrations took place at Buckler’s Hard last August to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Francis Chichester setting sail.

His son Giles presented Lord Montagu with a Royal Yacht Squadron flag flown by Gipsy Moth during the marathon voyage.

After Gipsy Moth returned she was preserved alongside Cutty Sark at Greenwich but was later sold for £1 and a gin and tonic – Sir Francis Chichester’s favourite tipple – to the UK Sailing Academy in Cowes.

She was subsequently given a £400,000 refit by Camper and Nicholsons, the Gosport firm that built the 54ft ketch in 1966.

When Gipsy Moth went up for sale again she was bought by business partners Eileen Skinner and Rob Thompson, who vowed to keep her in the UK and to inspire a new generation.

They have now donated her to the Gipsy Moth Trust, which aims to preserve the famous ketch.