There is a great story kicking about the internet about the SS Warimoo, and I’ve included it below. Before people point out, the navigational skills were not accurate enough using a sextant to render the story true, we should remind ourselves of the words of the great Mark Twain who made an account of crossing the equator in his journal when travelling to Australia aboard the S.S. Warrimoo in 1895.
‘While we were crossing the 180th meridian it was Sunday in the stern of the ship where my family were, and Tuesday in the bow where I was. They were there eating the half of a fresh apple on the 8th, and I was at the same time eating the other half of it on the 10th–and I could notice how stale it was, already.’
The SS Warimoo Story
‘The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the master, Captain John Phillips, the result. The Warimoo’s position was latitude 0 degrees x 31 minutes north and longitude 179 degrees x 30 minutes west.
The date was 30 December 1899. Know what this means? First Mate Payton broke in; we’re only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line.
Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check and double check the ship’s position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather and clear night worked in his favour. At midnight the Warrimoo lay on the Equator at precisely the point where it crossed the International Date Line!
The consequences of this bizarre position were many. The forward part of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and the middle of summer. The stern was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899. Forward it was 1 January 1900.’
It may not seem right that this was possible as they were sailing along on the 30th of December. Wouldn’t they have had to time this rare arrangement on the 31st? As you cross the International Date Line going west, you automatically lose a day. So in this case, at midnight, for an infinitesimal amount of time, the stern was in the 30th in the western hemisphere, which was about to become the 31st; and the bow was in the 1st, in the eastern hemisphere, about to become the 2nd. That is to say; the 31st blinked out of existence for the ship’s passengers.
‘This ship was therefore in:
two different days,
two different months
two different seasons
two different years
and in two different centuries-all at the same time.’
I’ve never had the good fortune to cross the equator, although I’ve been near on a number of occasions, I have crossed from one year to another, however. When that time comes again this year, I wish you peace and happiness. Happy 2019.
Although many websites have the story, this is where I read the version included:
Here is the link to the Mark Twain article: