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    Re: SS Warrimoo
    From: Don Seltzer
    Date: 2017 Jul 25, 16:39 -0400
    On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 8:43 PM, Frank Reed <NoReply_FrankReed@fer3.com> wrote:
    This particular "fish story" was making the rounds in many nautically-oriented groups back in April and May of this year.  And Gary LaPook posted a version in the summer of 2015. Here's what I said about it this April:

    "Naturally this is a joke, a tale of whimsy, a fish story, and it should not be taken literally. But suppose we do take it literally. How many problems can you find? The origin of this millennial story dates back to at least 1990, and probably earlier, but it's modelled on a yarn by Mark Twain. Twain sailed the globe in 1895/96 and published his book "Following the Equator" in 1897. He makes a couple of whitty comments about the equator and dateline, e.g.:

    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.

    "

    Could a captain achieve anything like the story as stated in 1899?? Would anyone have believed it back then??


    This story resurfaced the other day on another forum, prompting me to see if I could debunk it based upon shipping records.

    It was easy to verify that Mark Twain did travel from Vancouver to Sydney in 1895 aboard the Warrimoo, crossing the International Date Line.  Despite his incorrect assumption of a two day difference between bow and stern, there is a factual basis to the story.

    The more elaborate version which supposedly took place five years later aboard the same vessel on Dec 31 has

    'At midnight the 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 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. This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different seasons and two different years but in two different centuries-all at the same time.'

    I similarly thought that it was a tall tale, but when I checked shipping records I found that Capt Phillips did indeed command the Warrimoo, leaving Vancouver on Dec 15, 1899, touching at Honolulu on Dec 24 and arriving at Sydney on Jan 9, 1900.  The ship's course would have been very close to 0°, 180° so it is quite plausible that the Warrimoo did contrive to position itself at that point of time and space.

    Don Seltzer
       
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