29 scientists, 2 Education & Outreach Officers, various technicians, crew, and a dedicated ice observer are all onboard the JOIDES Resolution. The lights of Punta Arenas, Chile, twinkle less than a mile away as we wait at anchor, preparing for our voyage into Antarctic seas.
It may seem dull, sitting on a ship going nowhere, but our days have been full and anything but boring.
Safety First (You shall not pass!)
Some parts of the ship are simply off-limits to the science team. We’re on a complex drilling ship with cranes, cables under high tension, dangerous mechanics, and a drilling floor with many moving, swinging parts.
We’ve learned not to cross the black and yellow hazard line without our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): hardhats, safety glasses, and sturdy, close-toed boots. We’re confined to the forward section of the ship (everything in front of the derrick and rig floor), and the helideck (where people like to walk or run), which we can access via a catwalk along the starboard side—provided we’re wearing appropriate safety clothing and the sea state is not too heavy, of course!
We’ve learned how to put on our lifejacket and immersion suit (designed to keep us alive if we find ourselves in frigid water), had our first weekly emergency drill, and explored other safety protocols, including extreme cold training. An emergency is unlikely, yet we’re heading into a very remote area and some of the planet’s stormiest seas—strewn with icebergs—so safety is uppermost in everyone’s mind.
Places to see, people to meet!
We’ve met the captain and officers, the technicians, the ship’s doctor, and other crew, and the science team is getting to know each other better. We’ve discussed our science objectives (which I’ll talk about in a later post) and had general orientations regarding living safely, happily, and harmoniously aboard. For the next 8 weeks, all 121 of us will be a small, confined floating village, far from civilization, so living together well is imperative.
Since we work in 12-hour shifts—either “Sunrise” (midnight-to-noon) or “Sunset” (noon-to-midnight)—someone is always sleeping. That means always being quiet in the accommodations stack. “Awareness” and “respect” are the key words onboard in all areas of shipboard life.
We’ve toured the bridge and labs and now understand what happens to the sediment cores after they come on deck. We’ve even seen the fascinating places we’re not allowed to go to (unescorted): the drill floor and engine room.
You can tour the ship, too.
Now, we’re excited to sail and just waiting for refueling before heading out to Iceberg Alley!