Wednesday 14th   Equator Day!

Today was a landmark day for us.  No matter what the weather was going to throw at us today we were pretty certain we'd cross the Equator.  In fact our estimated crossing time was just after midday.  I was on mother watch with Brett – fellow 'round the world-er' and man of very few words – the first three of which to me today were “I don't cook”.  Not great when that was our chief objective today – however we soon came to a deal that I cooked and he washed and dried up and we split the cleaning 50/50. Sorted.   Breakfast came and went in a whirl of equator talk and some frantic finishing of fancy dress costumes. The left over material from the old sail bag (most of which now had a new life as foul weather cushion covers) was pounced on to make flying fish wings, pirate swords and mermaid scales! At 11am the on-watch ran around waking the few off-watch that were sleeping. This was the 20 minute warning – time to don costumes and prepare for the ceremony! In the absence of a phone box, I wriggled into my Super Sail Repair Girl outfit in the confines of my bunk and made a dashing appearance flourishing my Magic Bobbin wristbands,  tiara and sail-repair tool belt, along with knee-length orange socks, red bikini bottoms, blue vest top and blue Cape (towel) with matching Super “S” logos. It sounds like a lot of fuss for crossing an imaginary line in the ocean but for the sailing world crossing the equator is a big thing and comes en-wrapped in lots of tradition.  We all gathered on deck looking at the GPS reading waiting for it to go to 0000000. We then offered gifts to Neptune - bottle of bubbly that we were all hoping to quaff and the majority of a 10 year old bottle of Benromach whiskey – all went into the sea as a mark of thanks for delivering us on a safe passage so far and hoping to gain his allegiance for a future safe crossing of all our Oceans to come.  We were just getting over our horror at witnessing the only alcohol we'd seen in over three weeks get emptied into the Atlantic, when Neptune then arrived on deck - looking suspiciously like Piers in a white robe and white shaggy wig, beard and moustache – to make a speech. The great man declared that all our past sins (spinnaker rips and mis-handled halyards) had now been forgiven and that as we had now crossed the equator we were no-longer Pollywogs (a term used for novice sailors) but had joined the sailing band of 'Shell-backs' (as we now had the sun to our backs).  To mark this transition we were each doused with a good ladle full of slops (left over porridge, which I made sure I'd watered down considerably after pleas from the girls with vaguely clean hair).  I have no idea why this was necessary to life, but Piers assured us this was tradition so we ran with it! We then celebrated with crisps and a thimble full of bubbly stuff which magically appeared from the depths of our 'Dry boat' and a delicious fruit cake given to us by the head-teacher of Normanby by Spital School in Lincolnshire – with the provision that it had to be eaten as we crossed the Equator.  Who were we to argue?!
Soon it was back to concentrating on the race and time for Neptune to depart.  Piers arrived back on deck (as if by magic) and before we all disappeared to change, wanted to know how to call on Super Sail Repair Girl in the future – should her services be needed. She suggested in no uncertain terms that she was very busy so we'd better look after the sail in future – but should the unfortunate occasion arise – she would hear about it on the wonder web and would arrive just a stitch in time!!!