Location: 2 14.30'S 35 12.01'W

A missive from King Neptune:

Hear ye, hear ye

By order of King Neptune, Lord of the seas, Protector of the watery realms, and Defender of the depths.

Let it be known that all pollywogs wishing to cross the great line that divideth North from South must first present a sacrifice to the Great Sea God. Be ye of strong heart and honest mind, a sacrifice of that which you hold dear in your heart must be made after the examination concerning the creatures that dwell in the sea.

You must prepare yourself to meet King Neptune by donning the garb of one of these sea creatures, the scallywags who plunder at the surface, or the sirens who traverse its depths.

Only those who have proven themselves with appropriate sacrifice and during the Trials of the Argonauts will be permitted to cross.

Prepare yourselves; King Neptune is coming.

Friends and family of the Argonauts,

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that your children/friends don’t yet know about. This is because they are still “pollywogs” or seamen who have yet to cross the equator. This title is not just assigned to the least experienced sailor; even our First Mate Dan will be joining the rest of the students, along with two other members of staff. Myself, Ben, and Tina have crossed the equator before, which makes us “shellbacks.” The equator crossing ceremony is a longstanding maritime tradition with similar ceremonies held for dateline crossings, polar circle crossings, and simultaneous Prime Meridian/equator crossings. The pollywogs are currently preparing to meet King Neptune from whom they received a missive directing them to prepare a sacrifice and costume (theme: pirates, mermaids, & sea creatures). Equator crossing ceremonies are varied, but the traditional Argo ceremony, the same one in which I took part nearly a year ago, will likely consist of King Neptune emerging from the ocean with his trusty sidekicks, Davy Jones, and the Royal Barber. Students will present their sacrifice and, should Neptune deem it worthy, will proceed to the Trials of the Argonauts (i.e., complicated team exercises). With any luck (and low winds), they will finish their initiation with a baptism of saltwater and walk the plank for a swim in the middle of the Atlantic.

The ceremony is something very special that brings the whole crew together. Speaking from someone on the “shellback” side of things, it is tremendous fun making this experience “realistic” and fun for all those involved. I look forward to seeing what sacrifices our pollywogs have to offer. In the past, everything from handwritten poetry to hair has been offered. It is certainly a unique experience that will set this Argo trip apart from most others (the only other equator crossing takes place during the passage from the Galapagos to French Polynesia). Look out tomorrow for a pollywog turned shellback’s (Caroline’s) account of the whole experience. See you on the other side!

Hi, Dad and Tucker and Patrick and Simon, and whoever else is reading this. I miss you all lots. As per usual, I am disappointed by the lack of wi-fi in the middle of the ocean and will be in contact as soon as that changes.