Get In My Belly

While lab teams huddled today to draft methods chapters and discuss shipboard sampling plans for #EXP392, I made 2 new best buds: Dr. Gene Andre Molina, the ship physician, and Camp Boss Ally Noble who directs the catering crew that’s responsible for the care and feeding of 110 of us onboard for the next two months.

The fact that I was quick to befriend these two gentlemen reveals my top priorities as we prepare to sail.

No. 1 is staying well—as in, not seasick. Directly related is priority No. 2, which is partaking of Ally’s homemade Scottish fudge among a host of other culinary delights that distinguish the JR as much as its 197-foot tall derrick.

Ally, who informed me that the last person to call him Alistair had poured water on his head, is a lifelong seafaring chef. He began his career in the North Sea as a teen, having fled the family sheep farm in northeastern Scotland. Now he lives mostly on the ocean, and sometimes in Elgin, a village in the Highlands.

Today he’s overseeing the tricky logistics of loading the JR with 14,400 eggs; 2,240 liters of milk; $20,000 worth of fruit and veggies; and 6,000 and 1,300 kilos of meat and fish, respectively. That all accounts for just a bit of the $172,360 worth of food that the ship is taking on.

I want all that stuff—mangoes, peppers, prawns—to get in my belly. And stay there. Which is why I popped my head into Doc Gene’s office, aka the ship hospital. Since the JR travels to remote locales—sometimes more than several days’ transit from shore—he’s had to handle serious medical emergencies, everything from appendicitis to fractures.

“But most commonly, people come to see me for typical gastro problems,” he says.

“Seasickness, of course. But also from overeating maybe.”


Doc Gene smiles reassuringly, handing me a strip of Cinnarizine pills to prevent the onset of motion sickness.

With voracious gratitude, I then make my way to the galley. It’s dinnertime.

Maryalice Yakutchik
I am a longtime science writer/multimedia journalist working independently again after 14 years with Johns Hopkins where I specialized in global health, public health and the basic sciences. Prior to that, I freelanced for newspapers, magazines and websites; notably, the Discovery Channel ( where, as a globe-trotting expeditions correspondent, I covered everything from humpback whale genetics in Madagascar and body art in Morocco to wolf conservation in Italy, as well as research on rattlesnakes in Aruba and spectacled bears in Peru. Eons ago, after journalism school at Temple University (go Owls!), I spent 11 years as a reporter at the Reading Eagle, honing my craft as I wrote the daily mushroom report and descriptions of the Pet of the Week (all of whom got adopted, by the way).
More articles by: Maryalice Yakutchik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


JOIDES Resolution