Life on the JOIDES: Getting (re)acquainted

For many of the Expedition 395 Researchers, this is not their first voyage on the JR. For the rest of us, life on the JR will require a little getting used to. Living on the JOIDES is living on a huge piece of scientific equipment; she is an actual feat of engineering. Built in 1978, the JOIDES originally roamed the seas in search of oil, she now has a higher purpose: searching for the Earth’s secrets. Since 1984, The JOIDES has sailed in all of the Earth’s ocean basins collecting samples of sediment and rock. The information extracted from these cores has been and will continue to be integral to our understanding of the Earth’s geologic and climatological processes.

This map is based on a color-shaded relief map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NEIC, previously NGDC).
Cozy and functional berths are dark on purpose.

As this is my first expedition, I am still getting acquainted with this great ship. The general living area and berths are in the bow in a huge hotel stack below decks. These spaces are not the brightly lit, airily decorated staterooms from a tourist’s cruise, they are small and functional and above all dark. The darkness is important because people work 12 hour shifts 7 days a week for the 8 weeks that we are on board. It is critical that the person who is working from midnight to noon can go to a dark room to sleep. We are all careful to be quiet because there is always someone sleeping, in fact, our roommates sleep while we work so there are no disturbances in the “night”. I enjoy curling up in my cozy bunk in the quiet dark.

The evidence of many expeditions are in the main stairwell

I also enjoy the hospitality of the crew on the ship. Because we are working for 12 hours per day, we don’t have time to cook, clean, or do laundry. This is all done for us and it is amazing! It has not been hard to get used to the eating schedule: 5-7am, 11-1pm, 5-7pm, 11-1am meals are served, piping hot and delicious with soups, salads, and desserts. Cookie breaks are at 9am&pm and 3am&pm. We will never go hungry!

The small side buffet that has rotating options throughout the 24 hour day.

Sitting at the picnic tables on the deck at lunchtime we can watch the big blue and white crane swinging and the crew in red coveralls, hard hats, and safety glasses attaching pallets of food, cleaning supplies, equipment, and anything else that we will need while we are at sea. There will be no special deliveries while we are away and we will not make landfall again until the 12th of August.

So far, the researchers on board have been attending introductory meetings, getting safety trained, getting to know one another, and exploring the ship and getting semi-lost in the many hallways and stairwells. Today, I hope to find the gym without any help!

Jennifer Field
I have been a teacher of science for over 30 years and am passionate about engaging people of all ages with science. I currently work at Nipmuc Regional High School in Massachusetts.
More articles by: Jennifer Field

1 Comment

  1. Enjoy the journey and I am looking forward to following along and learning from you and your experiences. The science is fascinating and I plan to bring new science phenomena to my classroom in the fall. Safe travels!

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