R/V Polar Duke Farewell Tribute
in the Laboratory for Microbial Oceanography


Queen for a Day or Four
by Tracy Shaw
University of California at Santa Barbara

My first cruise on the POLAR DUKE was in January of 1993. I was a
volunteer with the Palmer LTER that year, with no inkling that the
future held four more cruises for me aboard the DUKE.  Everything about
one's first trip to the Antarctic is memorable, but, aside from the
standard iceberg-and-penguin memories, one thing that truly stands out
in my mind about that cruise was the ceremony that the crew held for
the crossing of the Antarctic Circle.  This "crossing ceremony"
consisted of being presented to King Neptune and then being "punished
severely" for having dared to cross the Antarctic Circle without
receiving his permission.  Oddbjorn truly struck fear in our hearts too
with his portrayal of an enraged King Neptune!  I can't tell you the
details of the ceremony though - those of you who have crossed know
them and those who haven't will just have to cross the circle and see
for yourselves!

Quite to my surprise, I found myself aboard the DUKE again in August
1993 on another LTER cruise.  Again we crossed the Antarctic Circle,
and this time the crew and associated planning committee decided that
there should be a King AND a Queen to preside over the ceremony.
Apparently this is how the ceremony had traditionally been conducted
and the ceremony I had been through with just a King was unusual.  I
was nominated to be the Queen without actually being consulted about my
feelings on the matter, and somehow managed a costume using the raw
materials at hand - green rubber gloves to mimic seaweed and XBT wire
which is like crazy glue - 1001 uses.  I presided over the "initiation"
of our new circle crossers and learned that it is MUCH colder outside
in the Antarctic in August than it is in January.  There were many
tricky aspects to holding a crossing ceremony in the winter, especially
since the food colouring and chocolate syrup bottles kept freezing
shut.

Since then I have been on three more cruises on the POLAR DUKE and have
reigned as the Queen for the crossing ceremony on all of them.  I
remember fondly all of my "Kings": Bjorn Almestad (1993 and 1995),
Henry Saeth (1996), and Al Hickey (1997).  My costumes have undergone
various alterations through the years, ending with my "crowning glory"
(pun most definitely intended) this year.  What would we do without XBT
pins and duct tape?

I am left with many wonderful memories of the POLAR DUKE - the
fantastic crews and scientists with whom I have sailed on her, the
fascinating places she's taken me, and the amazing things I've seen
from her decks (or her bridge on the blustery days).  Plus, she has
given me a chance that many women only dream of - I've gotten to be
"Queen for a Day" - four times!