VIMS

Crossing the Line

60°34'S, 165°03'E

Mariners have celebrated "crossings" since the Great Age of Sail. Today, all pollywogs aboard the Palmer helped carry on this august and venerable tradition by graciously welcoming King Neptune and his royal court aboard our humble brig to celebrate its crossing of the Antarctic Circle (66° 30' S) and entrance into climes both more temperate and hospitable.

In point of fact, the Palmer actually crossed the Circle two days past, but King Neptune was during that momentous juncture otherwise engaged in consort with a school of lissome mermaids. However, his royal personage did graciously consent to postpone our crossing ceremony until today; giving us, his humble and lowly mariners, a few added hours to relish in eager anticipation of his imminent arrival and our ensuing merriment.

King Neptune (known by the Greeks as Poseidon, King of the Sea and offspring of the Titans Cronus and Rhea) is a vainglorious deity who holds our very lives in his powerful hands. We were thence more than willing to oblige him his tardiness. We were less obliging of Mr. Noah Itall, the King's Royal Protocol Officer, Ambassador at Large, and Chief of Happenings and Events, who's scurrilous inattention to detail did directly lead to the unfortunate delay of our long-awaited audience with his Royalness. May sea lice infest both his doublet and jerkin.

Oh, what tales we mariners can tell of Rex Poseidon: Monarch and Sovereign of Atlantis and the Seven Seas! We have seen him command the waves to mountainous height, but also bid them to lie as docile as the lamb. We have braved his whirlpools of Charybdis (which he doth animate with but a single thrust of his mighty trident) and withstood his eager cavortations with Scyllaea upon her rocky headland. Aye, some of the more courageous among us have e'en dared to frolic upon the fearsome bergs of unyielding ice that he doth with but a wink cast from glacial height to the frigid arms of the Southern Sea. Other secrets, too wondrous to betell, lie forever buried in the worm-burrowed abyss, clutched tightly to the breasts of those unfortunate wretches who dared incur our great King's fearsome wrath.

But enough prattle of days long gone. Today was an occasion of great mirth and jollity that well behooves a troubadour's telling.

This morrow, our hearts did hastily beat upon waking, in great eagerness of the day's long-awaited festivities. When after interminable delay Lord Neptune finally rose from the waters of the Southern Sea to embark our vessel, we did lift our humble faces in great wonderment and awe at his eminence. His lovely and buxom Queen Amphitrite did likewise inspire much adoration and desirous yearning in the hearts of the Palmer's long-unrequited crew. The only blemish on the festivities was the hideous countenance of the royal entourage's infant babe Polyphemus, who is rumoured by some to be the issue of a licentious affair 'twixt King Neptune and a nymph who inhabits one of the many springs and fountains of Tierra del Fuego.

King Neptune did immediately upon boarding command us to provide entertainment to the Royal Court. It is our wont in such circumstances to make merry with song, dance, the banging of cymbals, and the percussive rhythms of penguinal hip-hop. Today was no different. Our frolics before the Royal Court did incite much gaiety and laughter, followed by applause so thunderous as to rival the exhortations of mighty Zeus himself.

But alas, our noble efforts did not fully please his Eminence, nor the remainder of his Royal Party. They did thus (despite our earnest protestations) subject us to villainies so gruesome as to beggar description. Verily, our tongues and the buds thereon doth still revolt in remembrance of the wretched Vegemite that was so hideously inflicted upon our persons. Likewise do our napes still tingle in light of their many dowsings in torrents of icy seawater. Yet by far most calamitous was King Neptune's nefarious command to make passage through the "belly of the whale." Our beings do doth still quiver in vile recall of the wretchedness of this putrid journey.

Yet our terrible hardships have not been in vain, as they have helped lift us from the lowly ranks of the land-lubbing pollywog to the exalted status of penguindom. They do also free us from fear of any privations during future crossings of the Circle.

As to the remainder of our present voyage, we can only hope that our valiant efforts to please the King and his Court have curried favor, so that he will use his great powers to still our remaining passage to New Zealand.