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Special Report: King Neptune's Realm

Monday, our last day before arriving at Davis, was very very funny.

Gordon and a few others worked out plans for the visit of King Neptune and his Queen. Really it wasn’t King Neptune visiting us but rather because we were entering his Kingdom or Realm. King Neptune is of course King of the sea and all those who cross the Antarctic Circle must pay him homage, but also have to be purified and forgiven for the sins they have committed in relation to the ocean - throwing rubbish in and other polluting acts.

Those people who had previously been in King Neptune’s Kingdom were excused from the rituals but had to be there to bear witness for the newcomers. This is how the ceremony worked (all key characters were in costume but you’ll have to wait for the pictures).

Officer on Watch made a PA announcement that as we are about to enter the Realm of King Neptune all expeditioners were to assemble in the restaurant.

Clerk of the Court of King Neptune: Summons all to attend and listen. He then read the purpose of the gathering - telling people that they had to atone for the damage they caused to the marine environment and that King Neptune demanded that they atone and be purified before they could be allowed to enter his Kingdom.

He then called all 35 newcomers (and two bears) to gather at the far end of the restaurant and wait instructions.

Then with great shouts and noise two or three expeditioners burst in carrying fearsome implements - large axes, ropes, bolt cutters, surgical instruments, buckets of grease, a cargo net and so on and laid these out on a table. We were all quite terrified about what was to happen to us with all those fearsome things!!!

Clerk: "Let it be known that from the salty depths we stir, your ship makes speed but time is ours. And all that cross the veil of the South must stand before the Ocean’s Law. King Neptune, Ruler of the Southern Ocean and its winds, shall take the right to cast an eye upon all those of sodden feet who wish to cross this southern Realm and land on icy shores."

All the newcomers were then ordered to go into a room on the other side of the restaurant - there we were guarded by two very large and fearsome men - with masks and baseball bats and we were told not to talk, but only listen.

Gordon told us later that while we were going into the lock-up room King Neptune and his lovely Queen arrived and took their place at the end of the room. While we were out of the room these things happened:

King: (thunderously): "Who dares to bring new vassals to my Kingdom? Why have you not sought leave before now? Where is your Leader?"

Voyage Leader Suzanne had to crawl on her hands and knees across the cargo net and grovel, pay homage and tribute; and ask leave to bring forward persons seeking admission.

The King said he would allow this to happen but only if the Voyage Leader wore his special necklace - which comprised some prawns and a fish on a string.

Clerk then called for the first group of six to come forward. Minders rounded up a group from the back room and they were forced to lie face down on the cargo net with their heads pointing to the King. The crowd were shouting and yelling things and those of us who were still waiting didn’t know what was going on but it sounded awful.

Clerk then called each person in the group in turn: "Rise to your knees - (name). Bow and walk on your knees to pay humble and due honour to the Realm."

The newcomer had a cup of very very cold seawater poured on their head, sometimes with an ice cube down the back of the shirt. [Gordon was doing the water bit, the rat!!] They then had to kiss a fish which was attached to the Queen’s foot!!

King Neptune then demanded they swear absolute allegiance to the King and the Kingdom etc and only when they said yes did he allow them to rise.

Each newcomer in turn was given a necklace with a prawn on it and had to kiss the King!!!

Clerk then announced to each in turn that King Neptune was pleased and declared that they had paid humble and due honour to the Realm and were admitted.

Gordon then gave each person a signed certificate.

And so, in groups, all the new expeditioners were brought out from the room and put through the same treatment. The same applied to OzGold and me.

When all had been done the Clerk said: "So it pleases us that the holders of these certificates are now dubbed South Polar Sea Dogs, to take pride in the brine that will now course through their veins. And that the same South Polar Sea Dogs will be seen as true and trusted salts respecting all and will know the snaggletooths and sea devils as friends. You may now take your right and proper place amongst the old South Polar Sea Dogs and bear witness for those who seek admission to this Kingdom."

The King: Bid welcome to all holders and declared they could pass into his Realm.

So it wasn’t as painful as people were trying to tell us and from what we believed when we saw all those dreadful tools and things and heard all the noise and racket.
So, I’ve been allowed into King Neptune’s Kingdom and have a Certificate to prove it. So has OzGold.

It was really fun.



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