A day in the life of a scientist on cruise 302 on RRS James Clark Ross

A week has passed since we sailed through the Narrows out of St Johns harbour. The early days of the cruise were slightly tense , but the situation is quite different now because we are well into the swing of things and feeling pretty comfortable in our new routines. I am actually slightly surprised to realise that it’s only just over a week since I was climbing Signal Hill and watching the sea mist rolling in. My days now are starting to merge into each other and I have a sense of having been here for some time. There are some helpful prompts to mark the passage of time though; the re-appearance of fish and chips on the menu yesterday reminded me that it was Friday again.

Yesterday I made a photo diary to show how I spend my day (see the image below). I work a 12 hour shift, starting at 8am and ending at 8pm. I typically get up at 6.30am, have a cup of tea then head to the saloon for breakfast at about 7.30, where I have some fruit and toast, although I could have a cooked breakfast if I thought my waistline could stand it. I start work in the UIC (Underway Instrumentation and Control Room) just before 8am, giving me a chance to catch up with the leader of the previous watch.

My work consists of doing a couple of CTD stations per watch, and processing data in the periods between stations. When we arrive on station, I prepare an instrument on the CTD package called a LADCP. It measures currents below the package as it moves through the water and needs to be tested and switched on before the CTD goes over the side. The CTD stations are three to four km deep at the moment and it takes about two and a half hours to lower it to the bottom and bring it back up to the surface. While it is in the water we operate a deck unit to control the data collection and fire the bottles. After the CTD comes back on board I turn the LADCP off and we set about collecting our water samples. The sampling takes just over an hour because between us we fill about 150 bottles, and each one needs several rinses first.

I stop for lunch in the duty mess at some point between 11.30 and 2pm, depending on the timing of the stations, and sometimes go down there for a cup of tea when I need a break. Another good place to have a break is in the corner of the UIC where there are big windows looking out over the decks and across the sea. There are very comfortable winch driver chairs to sit in and it is a prime place for wildlife spotting. Dinner is at 6.30pm in the saloon, and then I finish work at 8pm and head back to my cabin to check emails and relax.

The JCR has some great social space, and since there are a few of us who are not working in the evening, we can chat in the bar or watch a film in the conference room. Last night I had a drink in the bar but headed back to my cabin before 10pm to finish writing my blog. I like to read a lot at sea because there never seems to be time at home, so I read in the peace of my cabin before going to sleep. Next morning my alarm does off again at 6.30am and it starts all over again.

Penny Holliday

Image: Photo diary of my day on Friday 13 June, 2014.



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