Apr 25 - Crossing the Line
Date: Sunday 23rd April 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT +3): 02°32' North 032°46' West
Next destination: Grimsby, England, UK
ETA: PM of Tuesday 09th May 2006
Distance to go: 3769.0 nmiles
Current weather: Cloudy, Fine and Clear. Sunny Today
Sea State: Slight Sea and Low Swell
Wind: North Nor’Easterly Force 3
Barometric pressure: 1009.5 mmHg
Air temperature: 29.2°C
Sea temperature: 27.3°C
For up to date position information click on this link to ‘sailwx/info’.
This week we hand the reins over to Robert (Bernard-Shaw) Smith, who has the following words for the readership.
A Week in the Life of a Pollywog(*)
* Note : Pollywog is nothing to do with Parrots...read on !
Many changes have happened aboard the Shackleton in the last week. Passing the Tropic of Capricorn at 23° 26' 22" South of the Equator, we have entered the tropics and increasingly hotter temperatures. For those of us returning from a winter in the Antarctic we are experiencing a 50 degree rise in temperature which has resulted in much exposure of sun starved flesh. Not the prettiest sight for the rest of the crew who have the luxury of sailing through these parts twice a year. By most accounts we have turned from blue to white but the ship’s supply of factor 30 sun cream is fast depleting. We all hope that by the time we reach port in the UK we might be at least a pale shade of pink for the folks coming to meet us. The ship has been following the coast of Brazil, passing Rio Grande, Rio de Janerio and Recife before striking out for the equator. Sightings of other ships and oil rigs have occasionally broken the horizon but mostly it has been open ocean.
Of course the ship’s daily routine and work schedule continues amidst our efforts to turn a less whiter shade of pale. This week we have been cleaning down the monkey island and bridge decks in preparation for painting, chipping and grinding patches on the poop deck for more painting, cleaning the inside of the ship and the ever-glamorous pastime of peeling potatoes in the galley. We also have a daily person on Gash for general domestic duties which actually shows that we land-lubbing FIDs can occasionally manage to get out of beds for breakfast.
Ship’s drills continue on a weekly basis and a Man Overboard drill was had mid-week. Those of us observing were very impressed by how smoothly and quickly the ship was turned, the Fast Rescue Craft launched and the dummy recovered. Rumour has it the Captain threatened to dock the cost of the lost dummy from the crew’s wages if it sank without a trace.
Click on all images to enlarge...
(Editor’s Note : The alarm was raised at 10.33am and the ‘dummy’ was recovered by 10.37am ! Pretty sharp !).
Friday night saw Issy and Jules giving the hard-working Ship’s Chefs a night-off, as we were all treated to a Formal Chinese Banquet. At the same time Issy celebrated her birthday in her usual demure manner, ‘Happy Birthday to her’ and I’m sure there is a card on its way! It weally was velly velly good !
(Editor’s Note : Pictures are worth a thousand words).
Click on Image for Issy’s ‘’Hallpy Blirfday’’
Happily, the lampshade has been replaced whence it came from !
An excellent meal was enjoyed by all and prepared us for the trials of the following day, The ‘Crossing the Line Ceremony.’
Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot
Wavey Davey says ‘What is Grey, Has 4 legs and a Trunk ??’
‘That’s right,… a mouse going on his vacation !’.
A man was seen walking the High Street with an Alligator on a leash. Passers-by were very concerned, so they called the Police.
The Police arrived on the scene and cautioned the man.
‘What do you think you are doing with that Alligator ?’. They demanded.
‘I’m taking him for his daily walk’ replied the Man.
‘Wouldn’t it be better if you took him to the Zoo’ volunteered the Policeman.
‘Good Idea’ agreed the man and went off in the general direction of the City Zoo.
A week later, the Police were called to another incident of a man walking an Alligator in the Street.
Upon arriving on the scene, they discovered the same man and the same wild animal.
‘I thought we told you to take that creature to the Zoo’ asked the Policeman ?
‘You did’ said the man. ‘ He liked it very much and today I’m taking him to the Swimming Baths’ !
NEPTUNE RETURNS !
Crossing the Line
Saturday had us crossing the equator which is a naval custom steeped in tradition.
Throughout the 19th Century and even earlier, the Line-Crossing Ceremony was quite a brutal event, often involving beating ‘Pollywogs’ with boards and wet ropes and sometimes throwing the victims over the side of the ship, dragging the Pollywog in the surf from the stern. These days, of course, things are a bit tamer as it’s hard to get a Risk Assessment from Cambridge for Keel-hauling.
For the un-initiated there was a lot of catching up to do. Firstly as folks who hadn’t sailed over the equator before we were nicknamed ‘Pollywogs’ which is another term for a tadpole or as the dictionary states:
Noun.pollywog - a larval frog or toad
larva - the immature free-living form of most invertebrates and amphibians and fish which at hatching from the egg is fundamentally unlike its parent and must metamorphose.
No doubt we epitomised the immature free-living form of the species most unlike the rest of the disciplined crew onboard.
Click on all images to enlarge
King Neptune, his wife Neverateeti and Ship’s Captain John Harper
The Captain’s Welcoming Speech to King Neptune :
These Scurvy Dogs,
These Lost Souls,
After spending many years in your Southern Oceans,
Wish to pass across the line known as the Equator.
To reach their homes and families
They are not worthy of the Freedom of Your Oceans
They are not worthy of your Audience.
Do with them as you wish.
The Freedom of this Mighty Ice Vessel is Yours.
Let the Ceremony Commence !
King Neptune and his Court assembled for the day and we pollywogs were brought before them to answer to charges against us.
(aka Issy, Petra, Unknown Actor, and Dave).
Not of course without putting up a defiant struggle on the helicopter deck, but not even the might of Jules could avoid our fate at the hands of Neptune and his helpers. One by one we were overpowered and brought before the court to kiss the kipper and answer our charges. Little leniency was shown and swift trials were followed by summary penalties, namely liberal applications from the bubbling slops bucket.
Getting slopped has to be among the least-pleasant experiences you can go through, and you really need a ‘scratch and sniff’ link to understand. However there was hope for us all as following our ritual, we were awarded certificates from the Captain to avoid a repeat occurrence should we ever dare to cross the line again. We are Pollywogs no more having Crossed the Line and have earned the new term of ‘Shellbacks’.
Julian, Miriam, Kat, Paul, Andy, and (myself) Rob.
The day itself was the finest weather we have had since entering the tropics, with clear skies and a flat calm sea. Flying fish have been around for the last few days and no doubt the crew wonder at our continued entertainment from them. But THEY might think snow and ice are still interesting! To end the day, while the barbeque of finest food the galley could muster was underway, the tropical sunset arrived on cue. Certainly, a day to remember.
Click on image to enlarge.
So if my folks manage to find this web page before I arrive back in a few weeks, hello to you and see you all soon, which I‘m certain is the message everyone on board would like to have passed-on.
Author - Robert Smith
A Final Word from Wavey Davey
Wavey Davey would like to remind everyone out there that it was the Queen’s Birthday this week. We would all like to wish Her Majesty a belated Happy Birthday...
...‘ NO ‘...‘ NOT YOU, QUEEN DAVE-NEVERATEETI ! ‘
Forthcoming Events: Continuing North.
Contributions This Week : Thanks to the Shackleton Entertainments Department for bringing us far too much to report this week ? However, sincere thanks to Rob Smith for compiling this excellent edition, and appreciation also for all our resident photographers who have let me steal their work !
Diary No.12 will hopefully be prepared on Sunday 30th April for publication on Monday 1st May.