I remember the spiral stairs area but I know you don't have to get by the second crashed ship - as a matter of fact you can't - you can only look through it. Isn't there a small door for you to walk through or possibly the giant door that opens? If you could describe what you see in detail when you get to the top of the spiral stairs I might be able to help. I checked the walkthrough and I couldn't even find a mention of the spiral stairs and I'm sure I've deleted the save games for that level - I'm currently on Level 10.
I know it get's frustrating - I was stuck at one place for a day because I forgot that you use the space bar to use the wrench and not the ENTER key!