Books: Alone Before the Mast

GIPSY MOTH CIRCLES THE WORLD by Sir Francis Chichester. 269 pages. Coward-McCann. $6.95.

While it was still under way, Sir Francis Chichester's 226-day single-handed circumnavigation of the globe in the 53-ft. ketch Gipsy Moth IV received more popular acclaim than an armada of Magellans, Drakes and Joshua Slocums. Fleet Street printed reams on his every tack; BBC cameras traced his tortuous rounding of Cape Horn; the Queen knighted him in midpassage. Sailors and landlubbers alike marveled at the ability of a 65-year-old man, who had won a bout with lung cancer eight years...