There is little doubt that a bit of rum nourishes the spirits of a sailor after a tough voyage. But it was not a “bit of rum” that circumnavigator Eric Forsyth took aboard his Westsail 42 Fiona prior to setting out around the world from Philipsburg, St. Maarten, in 1996. He loaded no fewer than 240 bottles (80 gallons) of Mount Gay’s Eclipse Barbados Rum into various lockers and drawers and even the bilge (this unfortunately led to a tinge of diesel in some of the bottles).Eighty gallons of rum.
If placed end to end, the 240 bottles could circumnavigate Fionamore than twice. If stacked on top of each other the bottles would soar to more than five times the height of Fiona’s rig. The supply is more than half the amount of fuel (135 gallons) the vessel carries in its dedicated tanks. Not prone to excess, despite appearances, Forsyth claims he and his crew allowed themselves only one drink per day at happy hour when they were underway, usually a Fiona cocktail: one part rum, three parts Mott’s apple juice and a slice of lemon. “But in port we often hosted some great parties!” he said recently on a port stop in Portland, Maine.
Forsyth initially purchased 40 gallons for his voyage. But after being forced back to the Caribbean to effect repairs to Fiona from damage suffered in a storm off Brazil, he realized that, at a rate of 200 nm to the gallon (of rum), they would clearly need more. Therefore, when they returned to Philipsburg, they doubled their cargo.The centuries-old connection between sailors and rum lives on in large part because of the continued availability of the beverage in Caribbean islands. Rum, distilled from a molasses/water mix, is produced in various distilleries from Barbados to Puerto Rico where sugar cane is still grown in abundance.