After six weeks of waiting, we are finally sailing!

Since arriving in the Canary Islands we have watched as the Ebola virus continued to ravage parts of West Africa. When we first decided to join Mercy Ships, the plan was to travel to Guinea. Then, just before we left Australia the country we were to be serving in changed to Benin. The number of cases of Ebola have been steadily rising in West Africa since December 2013. Mercy Ships made the decision mid August to postpone travelling to West Africa at all for the time being. The Africa Mercy is a hospital ship, but not equipped to isolate or quarantine Ebola patients and while West Africa remains the priority, the safety of crew onboard the ship drives the organisation’s decision making.
So in the last weeks of August, a new country has been sought. It literally has just been a matter of weeks that this has all been achieved. We are currently heading to Madagascar and are sailing south in the direction of Cape Town, South Africa!

On Monday this week, in our weekly Communications Meeting, there was talk about a special ceremony for Pollywogs. Pollywogs? What are they? Apparently, it is a longstanding Naval tradition to initiate Pollywogs, sailors who have not crossed the equator, with a special ceremony to commemorate their first equator crossing. It was at this meeting that I realised that I am actually not a Pollywog and am in fact a Shellback (someone who has sailed across the equator!)

As an 18 month old, I sailed this exact course, from The Canary Islands to Cape Town before and crossed the equator in the process. In 1968 my family chose to pack up and leave England in search of a new life in Australia. We sailed on The Fairstar from Southampton, England to The Canary Islands via the Bay of Biscay. Then it was on to Cape Town, South Africa, Fremantle Australia and then around to Melbourne and we finally arrived in Sydney Harbour. This is where we settled and I lived for most of my life.

It probably goes without saying that I don’t remember anything from this first trip, although I do have “memories” and they are all related to the photos we have and the stories my family have told me.

I am certain that this trip is going to be far more memorable 🙂


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Above: p2P Perfect Place Blueprint, Katie Pertiet – Berks Lane Kit, Laura Burger – Amazing Nature Scrap Kit, Fonts: CarbonType, Color Me Purple

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Above: p2P Chicks Blueprint, Katie Pertiet – Berks  Lane  Kit, Kaiser – Base Coat II, Laura Burger – Amazing Nature Kit, CM Basic Stitching Digital Elements  Fonts: Tamaro Script, Veteran Typewriter

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Above: p2P Stitched Chevrons Blueprint, Katie Pertiet – Berks  Lane  Kit, Kaiser – Base Coat II, Laura Burger – Amazing Nature Kit, CM Basic Stitching Digital Elements

Fonts: Tamaro Script, Veteran Typewriter


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7 Responses to Blog: Pollywogs and Shellbacks

  1. Janice Deboski says:

    Dear Justine. As I write this it’s April 2016. It’s just been announced that you will be leaving the p2p team and I’m feeling like I’m losing a friend. My life has been full with many changes of my own the last 2 years and tonight I’ve spent valuable time reading back through all your blog post because I missed so many. Incredible as it may be your change of plans in not being able to begin in Guinea is something I can relate to. My son and family had plans to adopt from Guinea and the Ebola Crisis had been on the top of our prayer list for many months. Miracles happened and on Sept 21st 2014 our little granddaughter was evacuated from Guinea and is a wonderful addition to our family in Alberta Canada. Your blogposts are amazing and I know that you are having a wonderful impact in all that God is allowing you to experience. Please stay in touch. I’m going to miss you!

  2. Sandy says:

    Justine, I love your story, the photos and the pages you have created of your “memories’. I’m sure your girls will have Pollywog tales to share about their adventure crossing the equator.
    Double check the third line on the “Farewells” page. I think you have an extra word after Nan. 🙂

  3. junegauntley says:

    Oh Justine! I LOVE your pages! How absolutely wonderful! Will this be a history album of you and your family coming forward from 1968? I love genealogy and have been wanting to start at least one album for the history of my Dad’s side of the family. It is daunting!

    • Justine says:

      Thanks June! I am pretty pleased with how the pages turned out too 🙂 For now they will remain “random” pages in an unfinished project but I do hope to get them into an album of their own sometime soon.

  4. Ruth Bell says:

    I love this post. I was a Pollywog when I was seven when we crossed the equator going from South Africa to England. Still remember this quite vividly.

  5. Deanna Emmert says:

    Wonderful blog post, Justine! Now I have to go out to Google Maps and do a geography hunt! 🙂 Thank you!

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