We interrupt our regularly scheduled passage notes and the last of the St. Helena blogs to let you know we're nearing the Equator and will be crossing soon. With that in mind, read on about Crossing the Line. Crossing the Prime Meridian at longitude 0º for the third time was cool, but crossing the Equator, known by sailors as “crossing the line”, is always particularly special. That imaginary line encircling the globe and stretching some 25,000 miles (24,901 miles/ 40,075 km to be more exact) is cause for joy when you're in a boat. For us, it'll be the sixth time we've crossed the Equator. Nine of Cups will be heading back into the Northern Hemisphere after seven years in the Southern Hemisphere. She won't have to sail upside down any more and we can stop hanging by our toes.
We'll anxiously watch the GPS latitude change from S to N. We'll probably not celebrate with a big ceremony, but for sure we'll celebrate. David will toast Neptune with a tot of rum as is our tradition and we'll snap a few pictures at 0º latitude.
Sailors celebrate crossing the line in different ways. Friends on Nakia, dressed their cat, Ziggy, as King Neptune. I'm sure he enjoyed it immensely.
We thought we'd reminisce a bit and re-post a previous Crossing the Line Ceremony that we thought you might enjoy.
The first time we crossed the line, we celebrated in a rather lackluster manner, mostly because it was in the middle of the night. David was on watch. He woke me. He gave Neptune his token tot of rum. I snapped a photo at 0º latitude and went back to sleep. In truth, we had to cross a couple of times to get the exact 0.00º reading on the GPS. That was the extent of the excitement though. We were heading to Ecuador at the time, which in Spanish, by the way, actually translates to Equator.
When our friend, John, joined Nine of Cups as our crew mate and we sailed from Salinas, Ecuador to the Galapagos, we specifically went a few miles north out of the way to cross the Equator once again. This time we celebrated in earnest. If you've never crossed the equator, you're a slimy “pollywog”. Once having crossed and gone through the initiation ceremony aboard, you become a trusty “shellback” and member of King Neptune's Court. This nautical tradition dates back as early as the 1500s.
So what does the initiation ceremony entail? On naval ships, it's quite the elaborate the procedure. On Nine of Cups, we were a bit more reasonable. At least we thought so. First of all, Neptune received another tot of rum as we crossed the line. John had to make and serve us breakfast, name five “animals” on Nine of Cups (gooseneck, wildcat, etc), compose an appropriate song and sing it to us and kiss the belly (that would be Jelly's furry belly). Being the good sport he is, he complied without complaint. Good thing, because keel-hauling or walking the plank were the alternative choices! Read more on John's website. For all his efforts, he was rewarded with an official Crossing the Line Certificate … suitable for framing.