The latest news from the VOR is all about the hazing that first time equator-crossers (pollywogs) are getting from King Neptune on board, but these guys have it way easy, at least compared to the US Navy until recent times. Here’s a first-hand account of life on the high seas from Anarchist ‘fallsailor’ and don’t forget to keep an eye on the Leg 1 thread for ongoing discussion about the race.
The experience of going from “Pollywog” to “Shellback” in the Volvo will be quick and painless compared to what I and about 3,200 shipmates went through on the USS Midway in Oct/1977. The ship’s Shellbacks had been preparing for weeks and that morning the Midway stopped and was completely set up for torture!
It started as soon as you opened your eyes and not because you decided to. We got dressed with all of your clothes on inside out and backwards and your white tee-shirt had a huge “P” to indicated that you were a Pollywog. At breakfast we all had to eat the most inedible green crap I’ve ever seen. Also, at any time, any of the Shellbacks, even ones that you didn’t know could and would beat the shit out of us with pieces of fire hoses every chance they got.
Once we made it up to the hanger bay they made us squat and crawl quacking like a duck and if you didn’t quack you got beaten. While squatting and quacking you had have your face in the ass of the guy in front of you or else he would get beaten same went for the guy behind you or you would get it. Of course, sometimes they would miss and whack you in the head. They herded us onto Elevator # 1,(in front of the bridge), and brought us up to the flight deck herding us, heads down to the “Royal Baby”… My turn came, I looked up and saw the fattest guy on the ship sitting next to the biggest tub of Crisco I’ve ever seen, then a SB grabbed my head and opened my mouth and another took a grease gun filled with what felt like liquid lava shot it into my mouth and then the Royal Baby grabbed my head and smashed my face into his disgusting grease covered belly… many guys lost it and puked… so now there was also puke, hot sauce/lava all over the belly and the deck… it was a fucking mess!
At this point we had entered King Neptune’s Court and God forbid if you had previously pissed off one of the SB, because they would be waiting! Happened to a friend of mine… 3 of them grabbed him from the line, beat him with the fire hoses, took him before King Neptune, (complete with throne), read the summons and then they threw him into “The Coffin”, a black metal box filled with galley leftovers and closed the lid for well over a minute… longer if there wasn’t any Pollywogs waiting for it or if you really pissed off the SB.
Did I mention this all taking place at a dead stop around mid-day on the equator?
Then, the end was in sight!!! You just had to swim through the bottom half of a large jet engine shipping container filled with water and more disgusting, equator ripened galley crap… oh, and there was a board across the middle so to get to the end you had to submerge to get through and you had better do it yourself or the SBs would help you by holding your head under.
Finally, they blasted you with a fire hose to clean you up… which, if you weren’t ready for it or if you were off balance, would just knock you to the deck.
You think you have No-Skid on your boat… Ha!
We thought that was it, that it was all over…
That is until the boles started… for the next month we all had huge boles where ever we had a break in our skin, knees, elbows. The only treatment then was to pack them with clove wading… Which had to be in for so long sometimes the guys forgot the wading was in there… you know what that means… start all over!
These Pollywogs will be just fine…