It was a bit rough in the beginning. Not the sea, but getting used to everything. At first I had no clue what I was doing and I couldn’t even find my way around the ship (I still get lost now haha).
Everyone on board is incredibly kind, and they take the safety of the crew and scientists very seriously. The food is delicious, although we have 3 meals plus a coffee break with cake jammed into a 10 hour period. I usually nap through one of them and go for two meals and maybe a snack or two.
I basically follow the CTD. When it’s up so am I. Any time of day or night is fair game. I take nutrient samples at every CTD station, and then at the float stations I take the DIC/pH/alk samples for Andrew Dickson’s lab, then I do nutrients, and then I take Chlorophyll samples from what’s left. Dan takes care of the bottle re-greasing, and adds the mercuric chloride and clips all the bottles while I sample. He also does all of the analyses for the nutrients and has done all the chlorophyll filtering so far, but I have helped put a few of the filters into their packaging, and then we freeze them in LN2. During sampling, as soon as the PIES thing has been recovered, Dan and I wheel the float out to the stern and lower it overboard when we reach 1-2 knots. Then we go back to sampling.
Olaf (chief scientist) has the CTD people collecting the water samples for running salts, but it looks like I’ll be doing the analysis of those samples. I didn’t really have much say in the matter. He kind of just assumed I would do it haha.
I am still getting used to moving around on the ship. When the sea is calm I can barely feel the movement now, but when things get a bit windier I still struggle with my balance, but I have gotten much better. Showering is just hilarious. Keeping balance in a tiny cubicle with only two walls when the floor is moving is really not easy haha.
I sleep whenever I can and whenever I feel like it (unless of course I am at the CTD). I have been getting good at napping at random times and sleeping as much as I can. I haven’t been outside much, but I was today because it’s been beautiful out. Sunny and calm and clear, and the water is this rich, deep blue. I can sit outside for hours just listening to the steady crashing of the waves as the ship moves forward. It’s peaceful; I see why you enjoy it out here so much.
I guess the most surprising things are all the little details you need to think about that you wouldn’t normally on land.
1. Tie your stuff down. All the time. Always. It will fall down and roll or break otherwise haha.
2. Sometimes keeping yourself in your bed is hard when the ship is rolling a lot.
3. Having to separate trash into burnable vs. non-burnable items. It makes sense but I wouldn’t have thought of it on my own.
4. Don’t stack your plates after meal times. They will fall if the ship rocks too hard.
5. Every ship is different and has it’s own particulars to follow. For example, here we cannot enter the C-Deck mess in our work clothes, and the captain and other main crew members have a particular table designated for them. Smoking is allowed on certain days in certain places (ick).
6. Getting used to the shipboard lingo. “Your polar clothes are ready for pickup on the monkey deck.” Great, where the heck is that? Aren’t they all supposed to be letters?
7. Everything is in German (not surprising really), but the important announcements and signs are in English as well. However not everything is translated so sometimes you just have to guess.
8. Walking is hard. Standing is hard. You should always keep one hand holding on to something when you are moving around, especially going up and down the absurdly steep stairs.
9. Don’t waste fresh water, though you shouldn’t be wasting it on land either…
10. Be on time. If you don’t have your act together it could hold up someone else.
11. There are loads of different types of scientists aboard the ship, not just physical and chemical oceanographers. We have ice corers, biologists, people who are going to take zooplankton catches and who study things that live right under the ice (don’t know what to call them haha), whale watchers…