Approaching Singapore and nearly one third of the way around the world, it is Spirit of Cardiff's 20th travelling day of 24 days since departing Gibraltar

Approaching Singapore and nearly one third of the way around the world, it is Spirit of Cardiff’s 20th travelling day of 24 days since departing Gibraltar They lost 3 days in Malta due to engine outdrive damage, and one day in the Suez waiting for their transit window. On this basis, if they have no further major delays, they could be on for completing the trip in 60-65 days. A more conservative forecast is 65-70 days, allowing for unforeseen hold ups. The current record stands at 74 days 20h and 58 mins – Cable & Wireless Adventurer, 3 July 98. Clive Tully reports:

“What a contrast. Like being transported from a tranquil Scottish Island straight into the West End of London. We’ve passed from the vast emptiness of the Indian Ocean to the frenetic bustle of the Strait of Malacca in just a few hours.

The Strait is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and it certainly lives up to its name. During the night, we see a huge assortment of ships and boats – never fewer than twenty visible at any one time for hours on end – with a fascinating variety of lights.

In the normal run of things, one expects a vessel to have white mast lights, and red and green lights for port and starboard. That way you can tell whether they’re heading for you or away from you, coming across your bow, or passing you to one side. It’s a system that’s simple and effective.

Here, the boats have all sorts of lights. We see the orangey glow of sodium lights, large ships festooned with so many lights they look like Christmas trees, big fishing boats with arrays of spotlights trained on the water, and small fishing boats with just a single light – green or a very dim white.

When one large boat ablaze with white lights appears to be on a collision course with us, I tell Alan Carter to go plus ten on the autopilot (ie turn to the right). I’ve spotted a red light amidst all the white ones, and deduce he is crossing our bow from right to left. But when we get round to the other side of him, I’m perplexed to see a red light on that side, too.

This morning we could be in far more familiar waters, closer to home. The sky is 100% overcast, it’s raining, and the visibility is poor. For us, the main concern is how we deal with our arrival in Singapore. We’re not sure we can arrive before the marina we’re due to refuel at closes for the evening. We’re pushing the boat hard, but the conditions aren’t ideal. Even more on the minus side, my Psion Series 5mx has packed up. Fortunately I brought a spare with me – but that’s it. No more if this one goes kaputt!”