We crossed the Equator!

April 09, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Crossing the Equator is another one of those maritime rites of passage, and there is a whole comedy to the ceremony transitioning from the line-crossing virginal Pollywogs, which means "tadpoles", to fully-fledged Shellbacks. The tradition dates back a couple of centuries, born in the Merchant Navy, presumably to keep crew entertained and give vent to frustration on long passages, where first timers would be dragged through an initiation ceremony that was pretty punishing. They would be tarred and made to do all sorts of menial tasks, and often slapped around for good measure until Neptune decreed that they were worthy to join the fraternity of Shellbacks. Even Darwin had to go through this on his voyage on HMS Beagle to the Galapagos. The novices, or "griffins" in those days, were blindfolded one by one and led up on deck by "four of Neptune's constables" as "buckets of water were thundered all around". Darwin noted in his diary how he “was then placed on a plank, which could be easily tilted up into a large bath of water. -They then lathered my face and mouth with pitch and pain, & scraped some of it with a piece of roughened iron hoop. - a signal being given I was tilted head over heels into the water, where two men received me & ducked me. - at last, glad enough, I escaped. - most of the others were treated much worse, dirty mixtures being put in their mouths and rubbed on their faces. - The whole ship was a shower bath: & water was flying about in every direction: of course not one person, even the Captain, got clear of being wet through.”



Nowadays anything goes. The girls on RAFTKIN were already concocting slime back in Panama, more as a symbolic gesture and a bit of fun. On LA CIGALE, the Skipper dressed up as Neptune and fashioned a makeshift trident, while the FIRST MATE became his Queen Amphite, thanks to Catherine's Disney tiara, and the kids dressed in amphibious fashion... Francis wore a frog hat, Isabelle borrowed my teenage turtle outfit (dropping the ninja), and Catherine dressed as Princess Elsa, her water-freezing powers giving Neptune's a run for their money. I had always dreamed of swimming across the Equator, but when it transpired that we wouldn't cross the line until around 10 or 11pm, I shelved that idea. As the kids were keen to stay up, we made ourselves comfy and settled into an impromptu movie night to pass the time. making popcorn and homemade pizza and curling up to Mary Poppins, which left us with only a quarter of an hour countdown to go. We crossed the Equator once, and then turned around and crossed a couple more times for good measure. How did it feel? There is just one way to describe it really, the longest word you ever heard, and this is how it goes... supercalafragilistic...♪♪♪


We Crossed The Equator! from Lucy Van Hove on Vimeo.


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