Fighting a mid-cruise slump

By Penny Holliday

The cruise is nearing the half-way mark if you are counting the days at sea. This period can be tricky in a cruise that is 7 weeks long, because people get tired and it can feel like we have a long way to go still. The excitement of ice and Greenland is largely behind us (we may yet visit once more, but maybe not…. watch this space), and we have another hundred or so CTD stations to look forward too. Our days are long and repetitive, and it can be hard to find the joy in drawing water samples from another CTD in the rain.

The sheer number of stations that we still intend to do is particularly daunting for some of our chemists who have today looked at the map of planned stations and sighed. Each red dot on the map represents a lot of bottles full of cold clear water that need to be run through analysers or stored to bring home. As scientific leaders of the cruise, Brian and I have been in discussion with the chemistry team leaders today and have devised a good sampling plan that is achievable, less sigh-inducing, and fulfils the objectives of our experiment.

Drawing water from the CTD bottles is quite time consuming and is very repetitive. We quickly became skilled and efficient at rinsing and filling our bottles, and once that is achieved it’s easy for the mind to wander and tedium can set in. To help pass the time and make sampling more fun we have collectively created music playlists, and I bring my ipod and speakers down to the ‘”garage”. Our first playlist was compiled by a few songs from each person’s favourite music and turned out to be quite an odd, but enjoyable mix. With our diverse taste in music there are definitely some tracks that each of us wince at, but there is always someone singing as they sample (usually, it has to be said, me, Carolyn and Hannah). The biggest crowd pleaser, new to all of us except Ian who brought it to us, is Shanty Town by Mr Scruff, which seems very appropriate. Now we are on to CTD station numbers 90-100 we are, naturally, listening to a playlist of 90s music.

Over the coming days we will hopefully get a few hours break from CTDing and have a chance to wind down a little and recharge our batteries, ready for the rest of the cruise.

Images: Drawing water from the CTD bottles on the day shift.

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