Cruising as we do from Indonesia to Thailand and back tacks you across the equator, from one hemisphere to the other twice a year. I just did my fifth crossing of the earth’s middle, always a monumental affair. We crossed at the same location we did two years ago when coming from Indo, between Sebangka and Lingga Islands. There is a small island in the channel and we can anchor about 200 meters from the imaginary line. In pre GPS days this would have easily been thought of as the equator.
As the ship’s resident Shellback it is my esteemed duty to initiate the crew of “pollywogs” as the make the transition. I always encourage them to read of the rather brutal rituals used by the Royal Navy when Old Britannia ruled the seas. The inexperienced tars where subjected to all kinds of torture and harassment by the veterans. Furthur is a much more benign ship, so no torture. I do present each crew with a certificate that King Neptune drops off the boat while the crew is sleeping.
This crew being whole heartedly adventuresome read the history and came up with a new twist, wog day. In the spirit of fair play a tradition arose (or so the crew claims) that the day before the crossing the wogs get to play pranks on the shell backs. Rosie came up to the bridge to tell me there was a problem with the anchor, all with that Brit straight face, I leaped to the bow to investigate. I smelled a rat when she left me at the bow (and the unchanged anchor) and quickly closed the pilot house door behind her as she went to the bridge. I was soon the target of a brutal water balloon attack from three bikini clad vixens on the top of the pilot house. Roaring in laughter, soaking wet I was proud to have participated in yet one more ancient custom of the sea.
I had found some stuffed turtles in a store in Malaysia and could not resist, perfect gift for the new shellbacks. After we crossed and anchored we had a toast, the girls bubbly and I some juice, Hail King Neptune!!!