Mid-Atlantic Ocean 20.7834°S, 0.2263°E
So we have now passed the equator and with it came the age old tradition of the crossing of the line ceremony.The ceremony has been practised for hundreds of years within sailing communities and a ship's crew is splint into those who have passed the equator before (and posess a valid certificate) and those who have not (or have been foolish enough to forget their certificate!).
For this crossing there were six of us who had not crossed before, the rest of the ship's crew made up the police who were to chase us down, capture and try us. The two notible exceptions to this were the master (captain) and 2nd mate who were both on watch on the bridge.We all met on the focsle (forecastle - section of the ship forward of the main bulkhead) for the start of the ceremony where the captain, Neptune and Amphitrite the sea goddess. Once the intial reading of passage had been read out and we had (apparently) 20 minutes to find an appropriate hiding spot before being chased down by the police.
I say apparently 20 minutes because it was more the length of time taken to grab a beer!Two took to hiding in one of the landing craft only to be found almost instantly, one hid relatively well near the focsle, another to underneath the benches in the sauna (only to be ratted out) and finally I chose to hide underneath the windows of the bridge facing forward - a position in which one could only be spotted by leaning over the consoles on the bridge and looking straight down, or by coming up the one ladder from the focsle.
The only other entry point was via a small hatch in the bridge - both ways were well covered by myself as I could hear anyone long before they arrived.We were armed with various water bombs and a mixture of flour, tumeric, egg and dyed coconut, used to fight off the police.
I was the last to be found, after about an hour of searching - I was also ratted out. I probably had it off worst since they were all looking for me rather than just small groups. They also approached me from two directions, confusing me by tapping on the windows of the bridge (which are covered in a gold coating to reduce reflections coming in meaning they could see me but I couldn't see them). In my confusion I left my weapons to investigate only for the team coming up the ladder to steal my weapons and use them against me! Any resistance meant further punishment, however I still managed to steal one of my weapons back and use it before getting more of a "beating" from padded truncheons.
We were all tied up and ushered to the poop deck for our trial - having committed various sins (two of mine being supporting Celtic and vomiting up perfectly good food whilst at sea - both sins I have never committed but I wasn't going to argue!).
Following our trial, we had to kneel and kiss the kipper of Amphitrite which wasn't a massively pleasant experience, however it was far more pleasant than being covered in gloop, taking a chili shot and then being thrown "overboard" - essentially strung up in a chair in a cargo net and doused with a firehose, a throwback to times when crew were actually thrown overboard in nets, some even lost their lives as a result.
The final act was the shaving of heads, which whilst optional these days, everyone took part in - my style ended up as a double mohawk akin to Keith Flint from the Prodigy back in the days of the Firestarter video - prompting my nickname of 'Doc' being changed to 'Firestarter' for several days until I shaved it off.
To close the night out we all feasted on a barbeque on the poop deck (after having a very thorough shower!) which consisted of a suckling pig, fillet steak and several other niceties.It was an exceptionally memorable and fun experience and one which I am glad to have taken part in - I just need to find an excuse to cross the equator again in order to take part as the police next time around!