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The World ARC Fleet all become Shellbacks

How many times have you crossed the equator? Pete on Jubilate Mare boasts “I have crossed the equator 11 times”. This is very true however it was all within the same hour! 

Rituals vary and traditions have changed but the excitement of crossing the equator for the very first time does not diminish over the centuries. There are many traditions, myths and different types of rituals according to cultures but King Neptune, God of the Sea, is the most prominent figure in any celebrations.

According to historians the custom began with the Navy well over 400 years ago and is an ancient maritime tradition that marked the transition from inexperienced sailor to experienced sailors. Crew crossing for the first time are known as ‘Pollywogs’ and those who are returning are called ‘Shellbacks’. Over the last 11 World ARC rallies many different celebrations have taken place with elaborate costumes being cleverly created to recreate the line-crossing ceremony. Mainly reflecting King Neptune, his queen, a mermaid and a musician there have been many hilarious pictures taken of this momentous occasion. This year pink champagne was offered to the Gods by the crew on Jubilate Mare while others went to extraordinary efforts to celebrate becoming Shellbacks.

All be it a very small fleet the 20021-2022 World ARC Fleet have certainly made the very best of their time since their sail from Panama to Galapagos. Firstly, enjoying the island of San Cristobal, they have had the opportunity to get very close to nature. During a half day tour of the Highlands participants learned all about the animals, culture and history of Galapagos. Being volcanic islands the land is extremely fertile and in the middle of the island farmers are blessed with an abundance of fruit trees, coffee plants, corn crops and huge banana groves. The coffee is surprisingly good and an impromptu talk on how the coffee is grown and produced on the island was a great addition to the programme of events this year.

Moving on to explore more of the islands the fleet have visited the spectacular island, Isabela. Appropriately shaped like a seahorse, this island offers beautiful landscapes, volcanic tunnels, long stretches of wild beaches and an abundance of wildlife to include the Galapagos Penguin (the only species of penguin found north of the equator). Swimming with the Giant Sea Turtles has been one of the many highlights. On an organised tour of the bay where the fleet were anchored in Isabela Nyree on Kaizen encountered a wonderful experience with one of these gentle giants of the sea. She describes the encounter "swimming so close to the giant sea turtles was such an amazing experience. They are so graceful as they slowly rise to the surface to breath, looking you straight in the eye".

The fleet are now starting to gather on the main island in Galapagos, Santa Cruz, where participants have the opportunity to explore their third and final island during the Galapagos stopover.

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