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 Captain John D.S. Phillips the result.  The Warrimoo’s position was LAT 0°31’N and LONG 179°30’W.  The date was 31st 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 and double checked 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 SS Warrimoo lay 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 and in 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 the 31st December 1899 whilst in the forward part the date was the 1st January 1900.

The ship was therefore not only in:

Two different days, but two different months, two different years, two different seasons.

But most astonishing was it occupied two different centuries – all at the same time.

(Heron Flyer:  Jan 2019)


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