A Significant Juxtaposition

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 Warrimoo's position was Lat 0º 31' N and Long 179º 30' W.  The date was 31 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 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 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, two different seasons but in two  different centuries - all at the same  time.

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