Sunday, April 06, 2008


Although the Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea makes no mention of it, it is a well known tradition of the sea that those who have never crossed the equator on a small ship are referred to as "pollywogs"! The few who have endured the challenges and performed the necessary rituals become "shellbacks", a name given to hoary old sailors who have been at sea long enough for barnacles to grow on them!
We are 12 nm from making the request of Neptune to grant safe passage across the mid-point of his domains! The ceremony can be brief or drawn out but must include the traditional toast to the God of the seas and an offering to him, usually of the finest spirits on board! Ignoring these rituals is done at your own peril! Now, we are not as superstitious as some when it comes to nautical lore, though we never leave port on a Friday and always touch wood after commenting favorably on some aspect
of the weather. It seems appropriate, however, to celebrate this milestone. After all, we have earned it! A bottle of cold French bubbly, courtesy of the Jabula's awaits in the freezer!
So as we steam through the night on the large gentle swells from both NE and SE, a legacy of the trade winds we leave behind and those we hope to find ahead, burning the precious fuel we carried to take us through these 'doldrums', our bodies weary from the constant sail changes and demands of night watches, we can feel the warmer air and almost see the waving palms ahead!
The log shows close to 2000 nm traveled and 900 nm to go to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas where we plan to first drop our anchor. Although not an 'official' port of entry, we have been told the local gendarme is welcoming and will allow you a brief stay before proceeding to the next island to do the necessary paperwork to enter the country.
So sometime between 1:00PM and 2:00PM, local Victoria time, on Sunday, April 6, 2008, if your thoughts turn this way, raise a glass with us as we pass into the world down under!
And remember, the sun is always over the yardarm somewhere in the British empire!


...................................... said...

David and I will raise our glasses to you both as you move from pollywoggs to shellbacks...
Keep on sailing..

Love David and Deb

pikake said...

Hi there - I just happened to be copy editing the Currents today, and wanted to check the link to your blog - so your April 6th entry will be entered as part of your "story". How great is that?

Congratulations on graduating from pollywogs to shelbacks!

Terry F. (the outgoing editor)