Crossing the equator

April 25, 2003

S 01 degrees, 55 minutes

W 129 degrees, 57 minutes

Air temperature: 86 degrees, water temperature 87 degrees F., humidity 72%

Greetings to friends and family: 

Here we are in the hot, hot, humid tropics, being pushed along at 9 knots by the southeast tradewinds toward the Marquesas.  It's only 5 or 6 more days now, and we'll be there!  This is the sort of cruising we all had in mind -- a relatively benign point of sail, and plenty of opportunity to relax.  I don't think I realized, though, how HOT it was going to be.  We're all making considerable effort to stay out of the sun! 

Yesterday morning, at 10:39 a.m. PST, we crossed the equator.  We appointed Jim as "King Neptune" which required him to come up with a script for the whole crossing ceremony.  None of us have actually been across the line before, so no one could actually claim the authority to do the hazing which typically goes along with such ceremonies. We've heard stories (or read on the internet) about pouring buckets of green goo over the polliwogs (that's us, the uninitiated), or forcing the polliwogs to clamber through a weeks' collection of garbage.  This is all in order to be annointed a "shellback" (one who has crossed the equator). 


Fortunately Jim, our appointed King Neptune, was much kinder to us than that.  The evening before the crossing, he assembled us all, and read charges against us (and against him).  My particular charge was failure, as chef, to come up with "cherries jubilee".  (This is all pretty bogus, as you can tell, but good fun).


Our trial came just before the crossing.  Jim dressed up in a mylar wig, Burger King-style crown, and robe made of sail ties.  We all had to "walk the plank" (use your imagination, but it wasn't dangerous) and "kiss the royal baby's belly" (the bottom of a decorated bucket), before being declared new shellbacks.




Above: Jim as King Neptune

More equator crossing pictures

We then drank a toast to King Neptune, and proceeded across the line.  (Much to our disappointment, there was no "line" painted in the ocean.  It looks just the same north of the line as it does south of the line: hot and humid!)  It does feel like we're now on the downhill leg!

I've pretty well run out of fresh fruits and vegetables except cabbage and onions, a few tired carrots, and a bag of parsley.  I'm into the cookbooks looking for creative ways to fix cans of stuff, and it's getting harder and harder.  The crew continues to compliment me on my cooking, but I can tell it's going downhill!  I failed to stock up on pickles, but I found one jar which I'm hoarding.  Everyone has been warned: No snacking on pickles!  The candy bars are getting mighty soft, and haven't dared peek at the seven pounds of margarine that I bagged and stored against the hull, below the water line so they would be "refrigerated" by the ocean.  HA! 

The one discovery of the trip which has been a GREAT success was magic green bags by a company called Evert-Fresh.  The bags give off some sort of gas which inhibits ripening.  Most of the fruits and vegetables have been stored at "room" temperature in these green bags rather than in the refrigerator.  I wish I had brought more, because we still have 2 apples that are as crisp as they were in the grocery store, three tomatoes that still look perfect, and the cucumbers lasted 15 days with no perceptible loss in quality.  They would have lasted longer, but we ate them.  Citrus fruit didn't fare so well: the green bags seem to offer no protection against that awful smelly white mold that citrus fruit gets.  And bananas, while they didn't appear to ripen, tasted blander and pastier every day. 

Well that's about all from here -- I have to go and figure out how to make lunch out of the stuff in the cupboards that hasn't melted yet! 

All the best to everyone! 

Craig & Barbara Johnston

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