Today just before midday we crossed the equator. If anyone had been looking down on our boat they would have thought we had all gone a little bonkers. There is, apparently, an initiation ceremony that one needs to go through if you haven’t crossed the equator on a yacht before. On this occasion, it was the whole boat. We were all Pollywogs (not crossed the equator) and needed to be turned into Shellbacks (people who have crossed the equator).
I had heard of this previously – with some ceremonies involving cold baked beans and the like. Not sure I was looking forward to his one – but Jo and Valerie had organised it so I was hoping it was going to be in slightly better taste. And we don’t have any baked beans on board. When we went off shift at 6am this morning, it was predicted that we would cross the equator at about 10am. Everyone had to be up, so our sleep was going to be cut short. I woke at 10am and we were still about ten miles away. It seemed pretty rough and heeled over, so I decided to get my ablutions (what little there are of them) out of the way early. If I waited until the call to get on deck I could imagine myself still stuck in the toilet, wedged in to try and sit on a straight toilet while the boat is at 45 degrees. Easier said than done – naturally takes at least twice as long. All this as well as trying to keep my feet slightly up the wall to keep them out of the pee that is swishing around the doorway, being the lowest point. The trouble with a straight toilet and a wonky boat is that the centre of gravity is not the bottom of the toilet bowl, and when the waves are throwing the boat around the pee doesn’t always stay where it should be. I am getting quite good at wedging myself in at least six inches from the ground. Anyway, I didn’t want to say that was where I was when I crossed the equator.
We all got up on deck with a quarter of a mile to go, so all was well. We crossed the equator to great cheers, and then we had Poseidon up on the cuddy (Jim with a red wig on and a red glittery trident). We went up in fours – our first initiation was to have a pint of sea water poured over our heads and then we had to go to the back of the boat, climb under the traveller, and ask “Bob” (the dummy that usually goes overboard – but who was the only one amongst us that is a Shellback as he has already been around the world) to accept us as Shellbacks. This part of the initiation involved having red dyed porridge oats rubbed into our hair, and taking a swig of rum. Not sure where that came from on a dry boat! We had leys put around our necks, had to recite a little poem that Val had made up, get a “Danang” tattoo put on our arms and then go back to Poseiden to be made a Shellback. Not that good a taste then! Never thought I would have a tattoo – pretend one or not. Not sure how long it is going to last when I am not washing. Could be some time!!
We all went through this, then Wendo took over from Jim so that he could have his initiation. She looked more like something out of an Abba movie that a sea god! And she used the trident as a bum scratcher. Hmm. Shan’t forget that crossing then.
We had another little bird in the boat a few days ago. A pretty little thing that looked a bit like a swallow. Just came and landed on the deck, and proceeded to fly up and down stairs quite contentedly. The sail locker had been used as a movie theatre whilst we were in the doldrums, and we found it in there the next morning. Obviously liked a bit of James Bond!
Talking about movie stars, it turns out that we have one on board. Tony (the oldest of the Dad’s Army) was a Titan Warrior in Wrath of the Titans with Liam Neeson. Blink and you will miss him (his words). This was filmed on Mount Teide on Tenerife, where he lives. He turned down a part in Fast & Furious 6 because he was too busy, and the new Jason Bourne film which is being filmed whilst he is on the ship here now. Didn’t realise so much was filmed in Tenerife!
The boat is really bouncing along now – getting from one place to another needs strategic planning. We did hear at one point that we had overtaken Unicef, but late this afternoon we actually saw them – ahead of us! Wendo has her game face on now, so everyone is sleeping on the high side. I did think I would have to give up my bed for a heavier person as I am on the high side, but as several people are actually lighter than me I got to keep it. Small mercies. As I am on the inside of the high side I am actually sleeping on the wall of the boat rather than the mattress. No way to move, get comfortable, or do anything else except fall into the hole between the bottom of the bunk and the bunk above, and hope that you land in a semi “comfortable” position. At least we are predicted to be on this tack for the next few days, otherwise we would be having to move beds mid sleep.
Can’t wait to have my lovely comfortable bed back home!
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