Entry 2, February 14th, 2012
11:08pm, (UTC -3)
There is a long standing tradition amongst the navies of the world that until a sailor has crossed the equator via ship, he (or she) is not quite a real sailor. These unfortunate people are known as (slimy) pollywogs, while those who have are known as (trusty) shellbacks. Thus, whenever a ship crosses the equator, the pollywogs are presented with an opportunity to be initiated into full shellback status. The initiation ceremonies are of varying degrees of severity; ours, here on a luxury cruise ship, were fortunately quite tame (the navy and merchant marine are understandably more harsh).
The ceremony has a few key elements. First of all, King Neptune must be present (usually played by a senior shellback). He is usually accompanied by a retinue including Davy Jones and sundry other minor deputies of the sea. The pollywogs are brought before King Neptune one at a time to stand trial, sometimes for mayhem and practical jokes that occur the night before (Wog's night, or Wog's eve). Inevitably the pollywogs are found guilty and sentenced to a variety of unpleasant punishments. Ours included getting slimed and kissing a large raw fish, although on freighters and warships wogs usually must climb through a tunnel of shellbacks beating them with hoses, wade through a pool of galley sludge, get covered in used engine oil, etc. Eventually the wogs are dumped into the ocean (or the pool, in our case) and are fished out to become true shellbacks.
Strangely enough, I avoided this fate today, as I was playing in the band for the ceremony. I did get dunked in the crew pool afterward, though, and so I believe that the various deities of the ocean will be satisfied. Also, the navy has various sub-orders of shellback, and while this isn't as prevalent here on a cruise ship, I would qualify for the Order of the Rock, as I've sailed through the strait of Gibraltar.