The Date-Time Line

Photo cred: Artem Bali
The 180th longitude actually cuts through Fiji, but the time zones are irregular and during sailing between Niue and Tonga I passed the international date line.

That poses a lot of questions to ponder while sitting in the cockpit at night. I actually "lose" a day there - does that mean that I have to celebrate my birthday one day later from now and on? And what date is it now? When I left Niue it was the 25th. I was sailing for two days. In the log book, I arrive on the 28th. What does that say about the VMG? Maybe I should have been following UTC, or Swedish time, at all stages of the journey. Then it would not have happened. But would have been extremely impractical. Already as it is, I do not know time or date at the destination I arrive to. Frankly, I barely remember the month and year. It’s October now, I’ve learned. But days of the week is a long-forgotten unnecessary construct.

A dear friend's birthday is on the 27th of October, and of though we sometimes do not see each other for years, we always call each other to say happy birthday. As I left on the 25th, was still sailing on the 26th, but crossed the time line in the night and thus arrived on the 28th - when should I call her, and how do I figure out what time is in Moscow right now? Luckily, the long night watches allow for a lot of retrospection and thought, so it’s all possible to figure out quite fast. I got the time right and was talking to snowy Russia in the middle of a warm Tongan night, on the satellite phone. This time, the sat phone luckily worked. Otherwise, the Iridium malfunctioned very often, both while texting and while calling. And the cellphones... they were in some box, not turned on for months. I was not a part of that world any more.

Soon I was to arrive in Tonga! Read about the adventure here.