Monday, December 26, 2016

The ultimate golden shellback



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 ships position was LAT 0 S 31' N and LON 179 S 30' W. The date was 31 December 1899

 “Know what this means?” First Mate Payton broke in, “We are 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 ships 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 favor.


At midnight the Master ensured that the Warrimoo lay still on the equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line!

The consequences of this bizarre position were many. The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere at the middle of summer. The rear (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.

This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, and two different seasons, but in two different centuries, all at the same time!


  1. Glad to start the day with the most important info.

  2. Same century, they begin with year 1 not year 0.

    1. You are correct. Something I didn't know when I published the post.