The crew of Spirit of Cardiff stoically battle on despite the realisation that the record has slipped from their grasp…

The crew of Spirit of Cardiff stoically battle on despite the realisation that the record has slipped from their grasp? Clive Tully reports:

“The sky lights up in a brilliant flash, so intense I’m temporarily blinded. The lightning strikes the water no more than a mile away, the crackling bolt of electricity angry and orange. It’s been zapping us all around accompanied by an ominous booming that sounds more like artillery than thunder. I’m amazed we haven’t actually been hit by it. The rain is utterly torrential – our radar screen looks more like a Rorschach ink blot test – and once again our supposedly watertight cabin hatches are leaking.

The tropical storm has been with us all day, and our speed has come down more and more. We have a 1 knot current with us, which is a good thing. But we have a 35 knot wind against us, which is bad. As night falls, we come to the conclusion we’re getting absolutely nowhere, and the boat is put into neutral so we can just sit out the worst of the storm. The only plus side is that we manage to get a reasonable sleep.

By early morning, we’ve managed to get under way again, at a mere 4 knots. We learn that the storm is a borderline case to be upgraded to a hurricane. Great! We’re still over a hundred miles from Quetzal, with the prospect of not arriving for at least another 24 hours. And there’s yet another big storm between Guatemala and Panama. So our hopes of arriving there by the weekend have receded somewhat.

I just happen to be sitting in the wrong position when the boat comes down with a particularly hard landing. The result is that I’m now nursing a very sore back, able to move only slowly and painfully, and wondering what standard of osteopathy I can expect in Guatemala.

But with all that, we shouldn’t forget that today is a significant day. The 20th June was the last full day we could have returned to Gibraltar and still have broken Cable & Wireless Adventurer’s round the world record. In fact, three minutes before seven GMT tomorrow morning would have done us just fine, but of course it’s all a trifle academic now.

Even so, we’re three quarters of the way around the world, and the last quarter has been completed a good week faster than the previous one. But the Pacific Ocean is unrelenting in its brutal punishment. There won’t be any fond farewells from me to the Pacific as the first lock gates of the Panama Canal close behind us. I shall be heartily glad to see the back of it.”