CLIPPER RACE 2 BLOG 2 – Crossing the Equator


In James’ latest blog he gives us an insight into crossing of the Equator and the King Neptune rituals that ensued – legendary amongst sailors and the Clipper Race!

Written 1/10/19 just north of the Equator then the day after the crossing on 3/10/19.


It is odd being many hundreds of miles from the nearest land. Surrounded, almost immersed in the Atlantic. A few people around you but the vast expanses of a calm sea in the doldrums. Occasional birds, flying fish and even a dolphin pod. But miles from the nearest people other than our competitors and colleagues in this grand adventure. It is difficult to explain the sense of wonder, calmness, zen that can be had watching a sparkling blue wilderness gently undulating in front of you.


Increases as we exit the doldrums corridor and approach the Equator. We had taken the chance to do a little house keeping like drying foulies as a welcome distraction. A building sense of expectation and excitement along with the balancing concern of what will happen when we meet Neptune.

We crossed the Equator at around 0100 in the morning boat time, or just after midnight UTC.

Apparently, Neptune likes a midday ceremony, so we get to wait even longer. Just like kids waiting for Christmas morning.


Gathering from 11:30am a variety of costumes were made from people’s kit or even brought along especially. Poseidon made an appearance, as did two emperors and Ned Kelly among others. After being charged with heinous crimes over a lifetime such as putting food in the sea or even swimming in it it in the past, suitable punishment was meted out. No pardons were granted and no Shellbacks escaping Neptune’s blessings. A relatively benign Neptune first arranged for our clocks to move back two hours, so we had extended watches and a 26-hour day. Then he used fresh instant mash to demonstrate his prior suffering. Some more liberally covered than others. With a single arm band, L plates, mask and snorkel I was blessed on the mask, so the classic comedy finger wipe had to be done.

Tattoos were given to everyone as well as certificates declaring us absolved in the eyes of Neptune and henceforth to be known as loyal Shellbacks.