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