Friday, April 20, 2012

At 4am on the morning of April 19th, we crossed the Equator and, according
to sea farer’s lore, morphed from being pollywogs to “shellbacks”. As is
tradition, the event called for celebration and merrymaking despite the
early hour. The party also gave us a head start on celebrating Anne’s
birthday. For eons, sailors have used the occasion to relieve the stress
and monotony of long ocean passages by dressing in costumes, imbibing in
spirits, and initiating the shell backs. In that vein, we dressed Anne as
King Neptune, complete with a tin foil-covered, card board crown and
trident made from a wooden galley spoon. A tropical lei and shaving cream
beard completed the costume. Mark dressed as a mermaid with a wig made
from strips of scrap felt , one of Anne’s bikini tops and a green blanket
wrapped around his waist and legs to form a tail. We enjoyed the
silliness and took many photos to commemorate the event. A high point was
opening a gift and card given us by sailing friends from California before
departure. Lee and Cathy, Mike and Dave and Marissa had given us a large
envelope marked “To be opened at latitude 0”. It contained a thoughtfully
written card and a flag with an embroidered “Golden Shellbacks” patch
sewn on. We were so touched by their thoughtfulness. We concluded with
sips of cinnamon whiskey. The last drops were offered to King Neptune
while asking for safe passage, fair winds and following seas for “Blue
Rodeo” and her crew. When the thirty minute celebration ended, Mark
continued to stand his watch and Anne returned to our bunk for a bit more

Our first day in the Southern Hemisphere was spent sailing along under
mostly clear skies using our colorful spinnaker (large, lightweight head
sail) hoisted to help pull us toward our destination. Winds near the
Equator are often very light and the area is known as the “doldrums”. Our
goal was the keep the boat moving at an acceptable speed without having to
resort to using our diesel engine. Fortunately, “Blue Rodeo” sails well
in light air so we were able to continue to click-off the miles to the
Marquesas. By evening, we had less than 700 to go. The rather relaxing
day sailing under spinnaker and main sail also gave us the opportunity to
celebrate Anne’s birthday. She was delighted by email greetings from
friends and birthday wishes from other cruisers during our early evening
radio check-ins. Mark gave her a break in the galley by making lunch and
baking chocolate cup cakes in lieu of a birthday cake. She even got to
open a gift that friend Cathy had given her before we left Mexico. Like
most days before it on this passage, we found that the time passed quickly
and, before we knew it, it was time to settle in to our night time watch
schedule. The birthday girl took the first several hours after dinner
with Mark taking over around midnight.

As we write this during an early morning watch, we get a chance to reflect
again on how fortunate we are for having the opportunity to have this
adventure. We feel that life is about challenges and new horizons and our
sights continue to be set on the splendid adventures ahead. Life is

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday!!!!! pictures please!!!