Attention All Scoundrels and Pollywogs

Yesterday I got an e-mail entitled ‘ATTENTION ALL SCOUNDRELS AND POLLYWOGS.’ As I read it, I realized I was being summoned before King Neptune’s Court. I had never crossed the International Dateline before this trip, and so in the eyes of Neptune I was a pollywog—an insignificant landlubber with no business being at sea. I was going to be tried for trespassing.

This is an age-old sailing tradition—when a ship crosses the dateline, the equator, or either of the polar circles, all the first-timers have to submit to be tried before the veteran sailors, who dress up as members of King Neptune’s Court. The trials themselves are shrouded in secrecy.

In some ways it’s a foolish tradition, but there’s a reason it has lasted so long. On ships there is little to do except work and few places to go to escape your shipmates. Opportunities to break the routine and forge connections between sailors help morale, encourage friendship, and offer a change of pace.

Nowadays the opportunities for recreation onboard aren’t as limited, of course. Read on through the slideshow to see some of the ways people have fun on the ship:

Listen to Bill Jirsa singing ‘Ivan the Terra Bus,’ recorded in the Palmer’s aft control room today:

Read more in these related posts:

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

About Hugh Powell

Hugh is a staff writer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is on special assignment with the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. He has previously written for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

12 Responses to “Attention All Scoundrels and Pollywogs”