Oct 26 - Crossing the Equator
Sunday 26th October 2008
Position report at 13:00 GMT
Latitude: 09 55.0 S
Longitude: 25 00 W
Bearing: 100 °T, 600 Nm from Recife
Cruise Number: JR218
Distance Traveled: 232
Total Distance Traveled: 5200
Steam Time: 19.92
Total Steam Time: 449.8
Average Speed: 11.6
Total Average Speed: 11.6
Wind: Direction SE, Force 4
Sea State: Slight
Air Temp: 25.8 °C Sea Temp: 24.8 °C
At 2am on Friday, this good ship carried us over the line. I was a little disappointed to learn that there are no flashing lights, steps in the sea nor traditional song and dance for the watchmen to perform as they drove the ship into the southern hemisphere, and I hope that my arrival on the bridge dressed in a fake sailor's hat, proclaiming "Ahoy there sailors!" and making the tea, will prompt more of an effort in the celebrations for next time.
It became clear however that the festivities had merely been postponed until later in the day, and they commenced with the Captain's welcome aboard to King Neptune and his wife:
Once the formalities had taken place, it was time for Neptune's police ("trusty shellbacks" as are called those who have previously been through this initiation) to begin their search of the ship. They were hunting for "pollywogs" - people who have never sailed over the equator.
From my hiding place in a cupboard on the bridge, I could hear giggles from those on watch as they witnessed (from a safe distance) the arrest of the first pollywog. Though, I hear, she put up a good fight, poor Manuela was overpowered and brought before the court of King Neptune for judgment.
Once the charges had been stated, and the pollywog in question given opportunity to plead innocent (an unwise move I later discovered), judge (Tom) would invariably then proceed to declare said pollywog as guilty.
Punishment began with a ceremonial shave by the barber (Gareth):
Next, the hair was washed and trimmed:
The haircut was followed by being anointed and washed of sin (using a vile smelling concoction made up of last week's food waste) by Neptune's doctor (Riff):
Meanwhile, up on the bridge, I was feeling rather smug that I had found such a good hiding place whence I could hear the commentary from the watch keepers and learn that I was amongst the last to be caught. I had even started to think that I may not be found at all, and had made myself comfortable with a pillow in anticipation of a long night ahead. Little did I know that my trusted watch keeper colleagues were in cahoots with the police: I heard the bridge door open and the police were straight on to me. Resistance was futile (but attempted), and soon it was my turn to face the judge. I cannot understand why I had twice as many charges as the other pollywogs; perhaps it was my opening of the "charges suggestion box" with a scalpel and removing charges against me which antagonized the shellbacks?
Medicine consumed, the pollywog proceeds to "kiss the kipper" as demonstrated by Carolyn and Ross:
An important lesson was then taught to Johnny (chief of police): "trusty shellbacks" are clearly not to be trusted. They turned on their leader (because he had not brought his certificate and was thus unable to prove himself to be a shellback) and dressed him with the remainder of the truth serum:
This year the pollywogs had planned a counter-attack and it was judge Tom who got to taste his own medicine first
followed by "Doctor" Riff
Tom seems to be blaming me for instigating this attack because it was I who shouted "pollywogs revolt!", however as is evident from the photo, we were a united force. Days later Tom and I are still negotiating some form of truce.
Finally came the clean-up.
The day ended with a delicious Thai curry on the deck and dancing for those who were clean enough to be within sniffing distance of a dance partner. As always, a grand time was had by all - but I am relieved that as a new shellback, I will not have to suffer this ordeal again on the trip home!