And of course one for the ages, Saito has had a rough year out there but heading towards Japan...

Day 565 [April 20/10] -- A little party with King Neptune
Today's Report
April 20/10 0800 JST

00°10'N, 94°29'W (North Pacific Ocean, Equator)

The traditional sake toast was raised on board the Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III in late afternoon, as Saito-san crossed the exhilarating, if invisible, line that separates south from north, and symbolizes both the final miles back home and completion of slightly more than 70% of a voyage of impossibilities.

He had reached the place on the globe where "the wrong way around" was now the right way, as the currents, winds, and waves would no longer conspire against him. He'd left behind the portion where, along much of the way, he had bashed against contrary waves and virtually unrelenting headwinds. Even the skies were clear, and the temperatures warm and soothing. (Meanwhile, back in Punta Arenas, where he spent a long, now-returning winter, on this day it was just a few degrees above freezing.)

The crossing into the North Pacific also marked his 565th day of the circumnavigation, his 20,400th mile, and his 27,862nd day on Earth. That's 76 years, 3 months, and 13 days.

"I'm really happy," he crowed to us this morning. "It's great!" He has lost count of the number of times he's crossed the Equator on solo voyages, but it would have to be at least twice for each of his eight circumnavigations, plus a number more during long ocean passages.

The Equator has, since the earliest voyaging days, been a point that invokes the loud cheers of crews either just beginning -- or no doubt, even more poignant -- just finishing, extended voyages. On the way out, shipmates subject novice "pollywogs" to various, sometimes brutal, rituals that invariably would include a seawater dunking of those on their first time across. In British sailing ships an extra measure of grog was the order of the day. And of course in the celebratory cup of present-day Japanese sailors, you'll find rice wine.

King Neptune got a splash as well yesterday to keep him happy.