Line Crossing – Equator Facts
Although it’s invisible, the equator is an important part of the Earth. It marks the circumference of the planet, the longest circle around the globe. As it lies halfway between the north and south poles, it marks the boundary of the northern and southern hemispheres. It’s marked as 0 degrees latitude and measures 40,075 kilometers in length. Unlike a perfect sphere, the Earth bulges at the equator and therefore it marks the widest diameter of the planet.
There are several interesting things noticeable when one is near the line. The vast majority of areas that are near the equator are warm. The only exceptions being those at high altitudes where mountains are present. The length of day and night are also mainly consistent throughout the year. There are no long summer nights and short winter nights such as at higher latitudes. One of the first things that people notice when they visit an equatorial area for the first time is how quick the sunsets are. Unlike higher latitudes where twilight may last an hour or longer, its gets dark almost immediately after the sun sets closer to the equator. Learn more with National Geographic.
There are only eleven countries in the world that actually straddle the equator. These include Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, Rep of Congo, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, and of course Indonesia. Although there are countries in the Pacific whose territory includes the equator, it doesn’t cross any land masses in those areas. In most countries these crossings often have monuments or signs to show where the crossing is. In Indonesia the equator crosses the land in a variety of areas from west to east. Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi all have crossing monuments where it’s possible to jump back and forth across “the line”.
Although the line crosses through all of northern Indonesia, the Samata encounters the equator most often in Raja Ampat. The island of Kawe is the only landmass in the area where the line crosses over. In fact, there is even a small monument on NE Kawe to mark the spot! This is close by the aptly named Equator Islands that is home to some stunning dive sites. In fact, it’s only Wayag and its surrounding islands that lie north of the equator in Raja Ampat. Therefore, every time we visit the wonderful Wayag Lagoon we cross the magical line!
Crossing the Line
For centuries mariners have hosted “crossing the line” initiation rights for those crossing the equator for the first time. The event is hosted by King Neptune and his Shellback assistants, those who have never crossed the line are referred to as Pollywogs. These names have crossed over into popular culture and are often heard in films or TV shows such as Pirates of the Caribbean. Once a Pollywog has crossed and received a certification, they become a Shellback during their next crossing. Many ships including naval, yachts, and cruise ships will often organize a “crossing the line” party when a crossing is near.
If you or someone in your party is interested in a “crossing the line” event while aboard the Samata please let us know. We can inform you if your planned voyage takes us over the equator and prepare accordingly. Our northern Raja Ampat itineraries are the best for this but some of our exploratory cruises may also cross the line. Do keep in mind that areas such as Komodo and Flores are far from the equator and will not not cross it.