Luck has not been on their side, as the crew of Spirit of Cardiff are forced to turn their record-breaking RIB around and return to Singapore after the gearbox fails...

Luck has not been on their side, as the crew of Spirit of Cardiff are forced to turn their record-breaking RIB around and return to Singapore after the gearbox fails… Clive Tully reports:

“Sometimes you wonder just how much bad luck you have to have before things start going better. Having fixed our broken propeller, we’ve set off once more into the Singapore Strait. This is the maritime equivalent of a motorway, with ships nose to tail in several lanes going in both directions. Never have I seen so many ships so close together.

And then we’re out in the South China Sea, and relative peace. The weather even looks as though it’s going our way, as we leave a heavily overcast sky and head towards blue skies and sunshine. We’re on our way to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, or KK, as they call it out here.

The sea’s just a little too lumpy to brew up at speed, so we slow down in the early evening for a cup of tea. We’re a hundred miles from Singapore in the South China Sea. It’s when we try to start up again that the problems start. Once again we hear the sickening sound of the engine racing and no movement. Steve investigates at the back of the boat, and discovers a large plastic fertiliser bag wrapped around the propeller.

But when we try again, there’s no change. The engine is racing away and no power. Alan reckons the gearbox has blown, probably a knock-on result of the collision which robbed us of our propeller on Wednesday.

So once again we struggle to fit the spare outboard, and resign ourselves to the fact that it could take two days to limp back into Singapore. But as we get under way, we find that we still have limited power from the main engine – the gearbox clutches only fail once the turbo kicks in. But on little more than tickover, we triple our speed to 10 knots.

So we arrive back in Singapore at breakfast time Friday. Our friend Choy comes to meet us, and takes us into Singapore city to complete the Port Authority and Immigration paperwork. It’s then that Alan Carter informs us he’s leaving us to return home. Pressing business matters, apparently.

This leaves us one man down – which for the remaining crew is not a major problem. We’ve done several record runs with just the three of us. But we are in dire financial straits.

“As things stand at the moment,” says Alan, “we’re on the other side of the world with a potentially large bill to bring in our replacement outdrive. We’re a crew member down – we can live with that – but we’re now short of funds to the point that we won’t be able to bring the boat home. The problem is we’ve gone massively over budget, what with grasping officials and extra expenses caused by unexpected stopovers like this.”

Our motto is “Driven by the Challenge”. We have the will to carry on, but we do need support – whether it’s members of the public buying a mile, or companies willing to cash in on the massive publicity we’ve generated, we need help. We still have the world record in our grasp. Help us make it happen – please!”