PACIFIC CROSSING UPDATE: DAY 23

STUART'S UPDATE

It's official! We're shellbacks! We crossed the equator mid-afternoon yesterday. We kicked off our crossing ceremony with an address from King Neptune's proxy, Chase, wearing a white toga, a collinder crown, and a Hawaiian sling fishing spear-turned-trident (see Chase's incredile poem posted yesterday!). We toasted each other and made an offering to the king of the sea with champagne and tang before Connor helped me cut my hair with bolt cutters. Then, as is tradition, Chase and I lost several rounds of Rummy 500 to Connor. Do I feel any different as a Shellback? Maybe! The southern hemisphere looks suspiciously similar to the northern one!
Neptune gave us wind, but also gave us chop. Last night was another rolly one. I think we are getting used to it at this point, though, or we aren't surprised by it anymore. At least it's not raining. In fact, the stars over the past several nights have been super clear, with very little cloud cover. I'm slowly working my way through the zodiac using our star gazing field guide and have had great views of Scorpio, Libra, Virgo, Leo, Cancer, and Gemini. Turns out they are pretty easy to find as they all follow a path in the sky starting directly off our starboard side and ending on our port. I've enjoyed starting my shift with Scorpio hiding below the horizon, watching it rise, and ending my shift with it fully on display with the Milky Way as its backdrop. As always - the Southern Cross holds over the bow.
Every day at noon we enter a line in the log book noting our position, speed, miles travelled, and miles to go; and we are now counting down from ~650 miles to the Marquesas! It's absolutely insane to think that we could make landfall in around a week! I think we are all starting to feel the itch of just wanting to get there (I know I am!).

CONNOR'S UPDATE

Stuart said it well!  We're shellbacks!  We had a really fun ceremony, which Stuart described well below.  We should get some video posted as soon as we make landfall.  Highlights include Chase's "Neptune" speech, enjoying a red velvet cake he made for the occassion, and popping a bottle of champagne at the equator (obviously sacrificing most of it to Neptune himself!).  A not-highlight included the realization that my "fancy" equator crossing outfit (including linen pants, chili-pepper hankerchief, and my captains hat), when mixed with my chest harness that I wear on deck, made me look suspiciously like an out-of-place patron of a biker bar in the Castro District.  I'm sure photos will surface, and I promise, that was not the look I was going for.  The handlebar mustache certainly did not help the look, and rest assured, it was shaved off as soon as I realized what I had become.  Consider it one more sacrifice to Neptune.  
We're now tracking less than 650 nm to to Hiva Oa, and the sea state really sucks.  We are going beam to in some pretty heavy swell (7-9 ft).  The winds push our bow up over over the crest of each passing swell, and the rest of the boat follows with a loud shudder.  I am worried about the stresses we're putting on the hull, rigging, and, err, everything.  *Breathe slowly*  We're getting there.  This is the fun part of sailing a small boat across an ocean that those big boat people don't get to experience.  We feel like a cork in a flushing toilet (none of us are spending much time below deck today, and if we are, it's two hands on every surface to keep balance.  An hour ago, a big wave knocked Stuart across the cabin and he nailed his tailbone pretty hard.)  But again, we're making progress and there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  
Thanks to everyone who congratulated us on the equator crossing.  I really appreciate it!  It's a cool thing to dream about doing something for so long, and to have it actually happen is a bit surreal.  It still hasn't sunk in yet, but I know this is something I'm going to be proud of for the rest of my life.  So many folks helped me get the boat to where it is, and so many things happened in just the right lucky sequence to let us do this, so I'm feeling super thankful today, despite this crappy sea state.  
The plan for the next week or so is going to be to sail conservatively and safely, finish as many more of the Harry Potters as we can, and stay sane.  So far, so good!

CHASE'S UPDATE

Greetings from the southern hemisphere, on day 23! The sun is shining, the clouds are lifting, and everything looks *exactly* the same as it has for the last 2,000 miles. Oh well, it’s the symbolism that counts and we’re thrilled to be here, even if we did have to scramble a bit after realizing we needed exact change for the tollbooth (there’s obviously not a tollbooth out here, but I’m rereading 'The Phantom Tollbooth’ and the subject’s on my mind, plus I’ve been out here for 22 days, so give me a break).

Our little celebration yesterday was a nice way to blow off some steam after all the hardcore relaxing we’d been doing for the last three weeks (I say ‘we,’ though I’m not sure Connor has been able to completely relax since leaving LA). As we moved south into the first degree of northern latitude, Connor and Stuart began summoning King Neptune in their best Neptune-summoning voices, and I arose from the cabin wearing an extremely sweaty toga to read the speech I’d prepared. We took a moment to revel in our new status as shellbacks, Connor popped the cork on a bottle of champagne, and it was poured into the sea as we passed around the ceremonial Tang (strawberry) inside Stuart’s ‘grog jar.’ Next came the moment that I think Connor was most excited for: cutting off Stuart’s luscious locks using his industrial-strength bolt cutters (he calls them the Keys To The City and they are the most intimidating piece of hardware I’ve ever seen). After his ponytail was hacked off, Stuart went about buzzing the rest of it, and I’m sure at some point we’ll let him know about all the areas he missed. Connor shaved his disgusting handlebar mustache into a disgusting regular mustache, but thankfully opted to keep the rat tail in the back of his head. We are a motley crew indeed. After all the festivities, we settled down for rummy, cake, and the rest of the Tang, and by today the only noticeable difference is that we’re marking our charts with little S’s where before there were N’s. 

Even though we’ve already made it this far, I’m really hoping we can make it farther, at least another 650 miles or so, to where the land is. Lots of sailing left to do, but all is well aboard Sea Casa, we’ll be (shell)back tomorrow with more updates.
 

Chase Jackson