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Oct 25 - Canary Islands to Brazil

And so, in continually warming weather, the Canary Islands were left behind in the distance, to be the last solid ground seen until well into the Southern Hemisphere. This left time for the more routine jobs that needed to be undertaken to spruce the JCR up and make it fully ready for the coming season in the Antarctic.

The 11th October, just after leaving the Canarys behind, was of note here as the 30th Birthday of the Ships 2nd Officer, Calum Hunter. Below he is seen wearing his own personally modified pink safety hat.

The Birthday Boy Picture by T Elliott

For several days south of the Canarys we were surprised at the number of of yachts that were passed, usually at great distance, spinackers full in the strong breeze. It was only on investigation that it was found that we were passing through one of the most respected races in the amateur ocean sailing calender: the Transat 6,50. The first 1000 mile leg of this race had started in La Rochelle, France, on 17th September, with the single handed vessels heading for Lanzarote. We had started passing them just a few days into their second leg all the way from Lanzarote to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

From the Canary Islands our route was south-west, in the direction of the north-eastern tip of Brazil. On 13th October, under cover of darkness, and at a distance, we passed the Cape Verde Islands, a group of 15 islands and islets discovered by Diego Gomes in 1460. This set of active volcanic islands, previously a Territory of Portugal, has now been an independant republic for the last 30 years.

Around the latitutes of the Equator the ship also passed through the region of islands, banks and seamounts associated with the mid-atlantic ridge. First came the brothers of Peter and Paul, (Penedos de Sao Pedro & Sao Paulo) a poorly charted area around which ships passing too close have, in the past, run aground on unseen seamounts. After this, and after the equator, came the next area of banks and seamounts of the Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha. This more rugged set of islands, the largest of which being Ilha de Fernando de Noronha, are probably more well recognised from a Johnny English commercial for a well known credit card.

Ship's locationThe Ship (red cross) as it crosses the Equator south of Peter and Paul

Obviously prior to this was the equator itself, which was crossed at 18.24, just prior to dinner on October 15th. This fact meant that all those who had not crossed the equator on BAS ships before or, as decided by the crew, who would never cross the line with BAS again, would have to go through the crossing of the line ritual. This was undertaken during the afternoon just a few hours earlier. Here, they would have to face any charges brought against them, and be appropiately punished depending on the ruling of King Neptune himself, donating, as forfeit, a lock of hair.

King and QueenKing Neptune (Clifford Mullaney) and his beautiful wife Queen Amphitrite (Lester Jolley)
Photo by D Cutting

King NeptuneKing Neptune and His Loyal Subjects
Photo by D Cutting

The JudgeThe Judge (Gerard Armour)
Photo by P Cooper

One particular defendant was the Captain himself, Chris Elliott. To prevent any suggestion of mutiny amongst the crew, he was formally requested to attend the ceremony by none other than King Neptune himself. Having been sailing down to Antarctica with BAS for approximately one third of a century and having been master of the James Clark Ross since she first left northern waters, he was requested to sit infront of King Neptune for one last time. He faced several charges but the most serious was that of abandoning his crew for a warmer climate on the continent. The verdict by King Neptune: GUILTY AS CHARGED.

And the verdict is?Captain Elliott defending himself against the charges
Photo by D Cutting

Guilty!The final verdict: Guilty
Photo by D Cutting