Sunday, June 20, 2010

The origin of East of the Equator

I have been writing this blog for almost three years and recently I have had a few people ask me what I meant by the title, "East of the Equator." As most people know, and equator is a dividing line of a planet or celestial sphere, marking the point where north becomes south and south becomes north. Clearly, one cannot be east of a line that marks the north and the south. So, here is the tale that tells the origin of the term "East of the Equator."

When I was stationed aboard my first ship, USS NIAGARA FALLS (AFS 3), my ship left Guam (its homeport) and we deployed to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf for 6 months. During those 6 months, the ship supported a carrier battle group, and this required my ship to make frequent trips to Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. Diego Garcia is located about 7 degrees south of the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Dee-Gar, as it is also called, was a place where my ship could pull into port for a few days, get food and supplies for the battle group, then head back north to replenish the battle group. At one point during this deployment, we pulled into Diego Garcia for a six week long stay, where repairs would be made to the ship as well as to allow for a brief rest for the crew.

While we were there, the Wardroom (the officers of a ship form the Wardroom) was given access to a mobile home located a few hundred feet from the Officer's Club. Because of its position in the world, sunrise and sunset times do not change much during the year, and because there is no industrial pollution anywhere near the island, the sunrises and sunsets are usually spectacular. Me and my fellow officers would frequently go to the trailer for a beer, head to the Officer's Club for dinner, and then return to the mobile home, which had a commanding view of the Indian Ocean as well as a small deck that ended at the water's edge. One of my responsibilities was to keep the trailer stocked with cold beer, soft drinks and snacks. Many an evening were spent at the trailer, enjoying a spectacular sunset and a cold adult beverage.

We ended up calling the trailer "The Hooch," as every good watering place needs a name. It seemed like time stood still on those evening spent at the Hooch, and it always seemed like we arrived at the Hooch a little bit after 5PM. One evening, we joked that at the Hooch is is always a "quarter past five," meaning that it was always beer o'clock there. I then mused that any place where it is always a quarter past five must be a mythical or even magical place, and the term "East of the Equator" was born. Since you can't technically be east of the equator, I thought if I invented such a place, then I can make it any time I want there.

Fast forward 24 years, and Deirdre and I are the happy owners of a cottage in Au Sable Township, with 50 feet of beach front on Lake Huron. Au Sable Township is located about 3 miles south of Oscoda. Many of the cottages along US-23 are sometimes given names by their owners and have a spiffy sign that has the aforementioned name of the cottage. We decided, even before we owned a place, that we would call the cottage "East of the Equator." We have a design in mind for our sign, we just now need to find a craftsman to make it for us. Look for more updates about our time at the cottage, East of the Equator, where it is always a quarter past five.


BigFred said...

Welcome back to hopefully full time blogging, as the General permits.

Bob said...

Yes it does seem like a magical place! We hope to visit up your way one day.

Chris said...

DGAR... for all my friends!