As we approach our first drill site, the scientists and technicians onboard the JOIDES Resolution have started moving to their assigned shifts. As so much effort has been invested in these expeditions, and as we have a limited amount of time at sea, the ship operates around the clock and everyone works 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Generally, the shifts are divided into “day” shift, which is noon to midnight, and “night” shift, which is midnight to noon. However, there are some people, like the Chief Scientists, who work 6 am to 6 pm and vice versa, so that they can interact with both shifts. This overlap is important to make sure that core description, sampling and analyses are being done consistently.
Each person onboard shares a room with someone on the opposite shift. You are not supposed to go back to your room during your shift so that your roommate can sleep and have the room to themselves. We must remember to be quiet in the accommodation areas of the ship because there is always someone sleeping. This also means that people need to eat at different times of the day, so we have 4 meals per day and the catering staff always tries to have at least one breakfast and dinner option available.
There are a various strategies for adjusting your body clock to a completely different schedule. Some people prefer to transition slowly, by gradually changing their schedules by a few hours over several days. While others say the best way is to go “cold turkey,” meaning staying up for a very long time and working your whole shift, so that by the end of it, you are so tired and will have no problem sleeping through to the start of your next shift. Regardless of the method, once that first core comes on deck, you can bet that everyone onboard will be ready!