I- In the beginning
October has always been an iffy time of year for me—relationships blowing up, the deaths of friends, and some genuinely awful road trips. It was an odd collection of things: off-ramps to places that didn’t appear on the map, getting rides with people from weird sects who wanted to convert me to Baphomet worship, and such. But, my friend’s idea for a Haunted Halloween cruise took me unprepared.
My best friend came up with the cockamamie idea. He’d fit out the ugly Bayliner he’d taken for mechanic’s leans as a floating party boat and invite only “reliable” friends and associates. During the cruise, sound and lighting effects would add a seasonal vibe. The DJ had holiday-appropriate music and party games with a Halloween twist.
When the Bayliner (rechristened the Minnow for this cruise) crossed from Massachusetts waters into New Hampshire waters, there would be an elaborate but phony line-crossing ceremony. Line Crossing ceremonies are one thing in the tropics; going from being a slimy Pollywog to becoming a Trusty Shellback is an ancient and honorable right of passage to mark a newbie’s first equator crossing. But I thought that a non-Shellback holding a phony line-crossing ceremony was more than a bit blasphemous. My friend and his wife would dress like Neptunas Rex and his Queen; his brother would portray the Royal baby, and it was decided that I’d dress as Davy Jones and be the master of ceremonies.
II- Trouble off to Port
Everything was OK during cocktails, the buffet, and the stand-up comic my friend had hired. The DJ knew his business, and we were all having a good time when it became clear that everything was not OK. A giant tentacle swept over the starboard rail and clamped the Minnow tightly. The initial reaction was laughter. The guests assumed it was some inflatable Halloween toy for a unique effect. The dolphins swimming with real mermaids and the real Neptune should have alerted the guests that they were no longer in Kansas. However, everyone was having too good a time, was a bit drunk, and still thought it was an elaborate maritime-themed holiday joke.
As a member of the Order of the Spanish Maine, I was the only potentate present who could address the Royal court gathering to port. There was Her Majesty Amphrite, Neptunas Rex, and Davy Jones. They were cruising in a run-down dragger that saw better days in the 1930’s. The crew was the dregs of every sailor’s stew on six continents. The reek that reached us caused more than one of the guests to head for the rail and “chum the fishes.”
“Our court is now gathered to officiate in the passage of slimy Minnows to honorable Denizens of the Deep. Who is worthy to present them?” As the only qualified individual around that was me, “As a Potentate of the Right Honorable Order of the Spanish Main, I present them to your majesties. May the court find them worthy.”
What followed a typical line-crossing ceremony. There was the washing, scrubbing, and dunking of the candidates. The kissing of the royal baby’s anointed nether regions and other secret rites and rituals. Davy’s crew helped the process go smoothly by broaching a barrel of Kill Devil rum – “Good for what ails ye, matey!” By the time the ceremony ended, certificates attesting to their good standing in the Order of the Denizens of the Deep passed out; everyone was friends.
III – Not Your Typical Cruise
After the party, the Royal court departed, but Day’s crew stayed to carouse until we were off Portsmouth. At that point, Davy fired a pistol and demanded payment for all the rum. A Court of Marque and Reprisal was convened, and the Minnow was condemned as a legitimate prize. We were ordered into the lifeboat and rafts, given half a keg of rum, and started rowing towards the lights of Portsmouth.
Back on shore, after being picked up by the Coast Guard, all the guests agreed it had been one hell of a blowout Halloween.
My friend tries to convince me to help him do it again yearly. But I quote, “He who lets the sea lull him into a sense of security is in grave danger.” Thinking that the sea will ever be twice what it once was a fool, and worse, if he trusts Davy Jones.