The sailing world is fraught with myths, legends, and tradition. That it is bad luck have a woman on a boat may have fallen by the wayside (for some at least), but others remain. In name at least. Some, like the equator crossing tradition can be a fun way to break up a long passage.
To cross the equator you need the sea god’s permission. There are different takes on it. Some legends state that newbies, the people who haven’t crossed before, must perform a ritual. Others say that the oldest member on board must make the sacrifice, but luckily (for me) Sato San decided that the newbies had to come up with the skit.
Rather than doing an actual skit we agreed that we would do a picture skit. Each scene would be a still shot and the pictures would say everything. No memorizing lines, no action. Just implied action. Apparently this kind of thing was extremely popular in Japan.
Toshi San and I thought about it for a few days. Cross dressing and nudity were common in these ceremonies. I vetoed removing any of my clothes, or wearing a coconut bra or Brazilian string bikini the guys had been suggesting. Cross dressing on the other hand… now that was a definite possibility. And who better than to dress up as a woman than Sato San, the biggest advocate of me wearing less clothes.
Here’s how our story went:
The winds had died because we needed to ask the sea god’s permission to cross the equator. The sea god needed a sacrifice.
One sailor catches a beautiful mermaid (as played by Sato San) and decides to give her to the sea god to marry.
One sailor prepares the mermaid for the marriage but gets jealous that the mermaid is marrying a god so calls in her friend in Pacific Al Quanaika (the word means “where it is” in Japanese, but Toshi San wanted it as a play on Al Qaeda) who stabs the mermaid
The sea god appears saying he doesn’t want his beautiful mermaid hurt or need a sacrifice so he brings her back to life with rum. (this is also a joke as alcohol can be used to kill fish)
The sea god brings the wind and everyone happily sings a song.
It must have worked. Not half an hour later a pod of 7 small whales, possibly pilot whales breached alongside of us. I was delighted watching the creatures surfaces so close to the hull. Sato San, on the other hand just wanted them gone. They weren’t big, only 2-3 times the size of a dolphin, with curious rounded heads and dark bodies.
When Toshi San made the joke about whale steaks I knew the gentle giants must not have seen the Japanese flag.
One of our favorite meals is somen. It’s quick, easy, and delicious on a hot day, which we get quite a few of in equatorial waters. Somen isn’t for rough seas, but it’s a great thing to eat on calm waters, at anchor, or in a marina. Healthy, delicious, and above all easy it’s a fun cool meal for crew to eat together on the deck with a breeze blowing over you.
South of the Equator Somen
- 1 500 gram package of somen noodles
- Tomato, thinly sliced
- Spring onions, finely chopped
- ½ carrot, julienned
- 1 can fish (sardines or Japanese canned fish)
- ½ cucumber, julienned
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ c katsuo dipping sauce
- Boil water
- Put somen in and cook for 2 minutes
- Drain and run cold water over noodles until cool (it stops the noodles cooking and cools them)
- Fry eggs in small, oiled pan (ideally square) over medium heat about 2 minutes on one side and flip.
- Slice egg into very thin slices
- Arrange egg and veggies on a plate with fish in the middle
- Set on table with wasabi and katsuo
- Each person has a little bowl and each person makes their own lunch:
- Pour katsuo dipping sauce into bowl
- Stir in wasabi to taste
- Sprinkle in spring onions
- Add noodles, veggies and fish
- Refill bowl and eat until full!