Tenerife to Brazil – Day 15

Reading: An Unsung Hero (Michael Smith)
Weather: Wind increased significantly, unfortunately from the south (S-SE 3-5) and hot, hot, hot again ….
Thought for the day: Shouldn’t there be some sort of line on the water when crossing the equator?
Evening meal: Pumpkin and vegetable pasta with salad (the pumpkins needed using!)
Course: 195oC initially but then closer to 220oC when the wind shifted
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 1,991 miles with 1,846 to possible arrival in Brazil – over half way
Wildlife headcount: A group of five boobies/gannets fishing around the boat (stayed with us all night) – joined by a frigate bird for ten minutes or so. We also had a storm petrel sitting on the red navigation light – apparently they are attracted by red lights!

The first I knew of the day was a knock on the door at just after 4.40am urgently letting us know that there was just five minutes to go. Fishing rapidly around in the semi-dark and a sleep-addled state I got dressed and headed on deck. There we got a countdown from around 0.2 miles and finally 0o 0’.0’’ latitude – the equator. From here on, we are in the southern hemisphere. Hardly surprisingly it didn’t really feel any different in any tangible way, but somehow it did – quite a milestone on a very long journey and nearly 2,000 miles covered so far. The crossing was celebrated with a tot of rum – appropriate in some ways, but best perhaps to ignore the slightly ignominious history of the naval rum ration! Jet did let us know that she had had an email via Sailmail from Neptune (alter ego – Poseidon) to let us know that he was a little busy but he would be with us at midday to induct us into his realm. Coincidentally this is the watch changeover time, but then he must know the ways of the sea! So ten minutes or so later, we headed back to bed though just to rest as were up again at 5.45am to be on watch.

Crossing the equator

About an hour and a half into our watch the wind started to get up quite a bit, so Jet was called and we reefed the main and mizzen which made the motion much more settled. The sea though remains confused and clearly not into a settled trade wind pattern. The shift against us may have been a possible reason for this as we had to head off onto around 210oC to keep moving well. Though we are heading for Brazil on this course, it is not the part of Brazil we want, so hopefully it will shift back in the next 24 hours or so.

At around 1pm after lunch, we were called to meet Neptune to be baptised into his realm as sailors who have crossed the equator – we are known as pollywogs. This involved sitting in a baptismal font while being baptised with a shower, though the baptismal font did have a touch of Lidl about it given that it was a mini paddling pool bought in Tenerife and the baptismal shower came from a water gun! Nevertheless, the stentorian tones of Neptune (Jet in a green beard) announced that we had crossed the equator and were to be baptised with a new name that would stay with us as we sailed the waters of the world. Mine was Royal Albatross … wandering around the seas …. At that point Neptune’s assistant (Erik looking like a low-key chef!) showered us from the water gun to confirm the baptism. One by one all five of us who were crossing for the first time went through this. The other names were a Commerson’s Dolphin, a Chinstrap Penguin, a Sea Turtle and a Sea Horse – quite a collection of marine life on board. We are now known as shellbacks instead of pollywogs …..