After an unscheduled pit stop in Singapore to replace the stern drive, Spirit of Cardiff is once more in her way to break the record for a power circumnavigation

After an unscheduled pit stop in Singapore to replace the stern drive, Spirit of Cardiff is once more in her way to break the record for a power circumnavigation. Clive Tully reports:

“We could have been delayed another night, but we aren’t, thanks to Natsteel Marine manager Jeffrey Ling. The couriers phone him from the airport mid-afternoon on Monday to say our drive unit will be on the next van, and he tells them to make sure we’re their first stop. We are.

The parts arrive just before three, and the boat is immediately lifted out of the water and the old outdrive removed. Fortunately, replacing a Yamaha stern drive involves undoing just six bolts and a bit of brute force lifting and shoving. The whole operation is completed in just over an hour, and the boat lowered back into the water. It’s just past four in the afternoon, and we’ve done it all before the crane operator knocks off for the evening.

We set off straight away, hoping we don’t have any delays with the immigration authorities. Having already sent a five page fax advising of our departure, we’re supposed to go to a grid reference, fly some special flags, and wait to be boarded and signed off.

We arrive at the allotted position, and call up the immigration people on the radio. No response. We still have a world record in our grasp, and we’re not going to wait. This time we really are on our way.

As night falls, there’s a pronounced clonk on the side of the cabin. We’re mystified as to what it might be until we realise it’s the “attack of the suicide fish bombers part two”. But unlike the Indian Ocean fish, these South China Sea jobs appear to be flying much higher and faster, with a good deal more momentum.

Throughout the night there are frequent collisions, the fish even hitting quite high up the windows. As I nip outside to the dive platform at the back for a private moment, I wonder whether I’m going to get whacked on the head by a passing fish. It’s all a bit Monty Python, but it could just be the fin end of the wedge.”