TNS458 14/03/2016

Hello, everybody!  Big News today: we have crossed the Equator! – at 11.13
to be precise – and are now in the southern hemisphere.  The excitement and
anticipation of this event were considerable, with the sweepstake to guess
the date and time of crossing creating unprecedented levels of complex
mathematical calculations in some quarters.  Charlie contrived to spend a
whole watch ruminating on possible permutations, while others simply made a
wild guess … or two. Louise was the eventual winner having boldly put
Sunday, 11.06′.  However, had the helming proved unreliable (never!) or
our average 6 knots increased or decreased, the result might have been very
Yesterday, we were motor-sailing on a course of 270 degrees for much
of the day, hoping for the chance of actually sailing over The Line, but it
wasn’t to be.  However, that did little to dampen the celebrations and our
encounter with King/Queen Neptune (Watch leader Carol Hayes), swathed in
netting from the deep, and her blue-wigged, cherry-red lipped,
toast-basket-boobed consort (Lee Hayward).  Captain Simon welcomed them on
board and then the Pollywogs (those crossing the Line for the first time)
were brought forward to answer their charges; render homage to the royal
pair; and to ‘kiss the baby’s head’ – Niall Crawford, our 2nd Engineer was
generous enough to offer his bald pate for this one!  The rest of the royal
entourage of Shellbacks – those who have already sailed across the Equator –
was as follows: the surgeon/barber (W/L Chris Hooper) with his pot of
whipping cream (shaving foam) and enormous barber’s knife (think axe!); the
attractive nurse (Cook’s Ass, Tracey Watson) who dished out the medicine
with great gusto and a very large wooden spoon; the Policeman, BM Lee Wells,
read the individual charges which ranged from ‘For bringing your
wife/husband on the voyage’ to ‘For always appearing in immaculate white
shorts and T-shirt’; BM Luis Otero, Richard LeVee and Kate Senior were
engaged as Neptune’s police but found the Pollywogs to be remarkably
acquiescent in approaching the paddling pool, into which everyone was
ceremonially dunked.
Prior to reaching The Line, the Cadets had been offered a choice of
having their heads shaved, their hair dyed, or running round the decks
naked.  Given their extrovert nature we half-expected the latter to be the
‘punishment’ of choice, though all declined and only Tom (Quinn) ended up
with beetroot red hair and what appeared to be a very bloody neck.
Following the ceremonies almost the entire crew jumped into the
Pacific for a swim by the ship.  The water was wonderfully warm and
incredibly clear, though with several miles below us, there was no way we
could see the bottom!  Some would have liked to swim under the hull (to
inspect the barnacles?) but we were all instructed to stay on the port side
so that a proper shark watch could be maintained – fortunately, there were
no frantic cries of ‘Jaws’ and we all had a really refreshing and enjoyable
time, thanks to the permanent crew who enabled all this fun.
The afternoon ended with a short service of thanksgiving for the
voyage thus far, and with prayers for a safe journey onward to Tahiti.
All-in-all, a very memorable and happy day, which concluded with a delicious
Sunday roast!  Yes, we are indeed the lucky ones!
Greetings from the Aft Port watch: Kate S, Charlie, Kath & Paul,
David/Dave, Chris W and Michelle.