APRIL - I
recently took a cruise starting in the Indian Ocean, and finishing
up in Venice.On the 18th March we were scheduled to cross
the Equator. A King Neptune ceremony was laid on for crossing the
line at 5pm local time that day, when many passengers were anointed
I was sceptical
that we really crossed the line at 5 pm. So I decided to try and
work out where we were at 5pm local time, and were we crossing the
Equator? I knew the ship’s previous position, and from the ship’s
TV I knew the ship’s heading, and its speed in knots. I calculated
what I believed to be the crossing time, which I made about and hour
and a half earlier at 3.30 pm, local.
On the 20th
March I decided to write to the Captain about my result. I was
surprised that within two hours I received a hand written reply from
the Captain himself. He said I was absolutely correct and invited
me to tea.
When we met he
thought I was a navigator. I had to admit that I wasn’t. I said
that I had based the calculation on two known schoolboy facts. That
a knot is a nautical mile per hour, and a nautical mile subtends one
minute of arc at the Earth’s centre.
He said that I
was the only passenger on the ship who pointed out that the ceremony
took place at the wrong time. He said it was necessary for
operational reasons. However, it remained a secret between us. The
Captain was a very interesting man, and told me a number of
fascinating facts about navigation.