31 July, 2002
Yesterday it took a long time to talk with each member of the science service team, take their pictures, and post my journal and photos. Today, Iím taking a bit of a break to tell you a little about a ďtypicalĒ day for me here on board the USCGC Healy in the Arctic Ocean. Having said that, I must admit that there is really no such thing as a typical day. Any one day might be similar to a day from a week or two ago, but no two days back to back are ever alike. Before coming on board, I thought I would have twelve hour shifts, seven days/week. If you read yesterdayís journal, youíll realize that the science service team does have those hours. They are on from midnight to noon or vice versa, with two people on seven to seven for an overlap. There are 14 different projects going on during the cruise, and 38 science personnel to carry out those projects. Remember too that eight of those are on the science service team. That leaves only 30 people, not enough to go around to split the work into two shifts. As a result, everyone is on when it is his/her turn to collect or process samples. That could be at any hour of the day or night, and the scheduled times change frequently due to ice conditions, currents, and helicopter operations. Thatís part of the reason we never see everyone at any one meal during the day. Thereís always someone trying to catch up on sleep.
My daily routine always includes some time spent on the benthic work with Jackieís team, taking water for oxygen-18 from the CTD casts, and time on my journals. I find that I never seem to get the journals posted in a timely manner. Some nights I work into the morning hours and sleep through until lunch or after. On other days, like today, I had my journal finished last night with the exception of two pictures. I got a ďnormalĒ nightís sleep but went to work on our core samples as soon as I woke up. Once again, it was late into the day when the journal from the previous day was posted. In addition, I have been printing out and posting a copy of the daily journal and photos for the crew and anyone else who doesnít get to read it on line. For some reason, this whole process always takes me at least two-three hours. Even though it takes time on a daily basis, Iím so glad Iím doing it. It forces me to take the time to reflect on my experience, and it has given me a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with some of the many interesting people on board. In addition, itís a great feeling to get e-mails from people who are reading my journals!
What are some of the other things I do on a daily basis? Sometimes I get to the gym on board to ride the stationary bike in an effort to work off some of the calories from the great meals we get. When weíre at deep stations that take a long time, I usually manage three meals a day. When weíre at shallower depths, our work comes closer together and I often miss a meal as I try to catch sleep in between. Even on the days that I donít get to the shipís gym, I get a cardiovascular workout climbing the stairs between my room and the science lab several times each day. Iím on the fourth deck, and the science lab is on the first deck (the mess deck). In between are 62 steep stairs. The crew goes up and down with ease, but I often find myself stopping to catch my breath part way up. Just to give you an idea of the size of the ship, there is one level above me (the bridge) and two levels below the mess deck! When I go to the gym or the laundry, itís 79 steps back up!
For the scientists on board, this is their job and they work hard at it! They will spend long months after the cruise analyzing their data, but while they are here they donít have any time to spare. Many of them have been doing oceanography work for years, and they clearly enjoy the time they are at sea. Watching Jackieís face light up when we get four great core samples is enough to convince me she loves what she is doing. Itís definitely not your typical nine to five job but, for these scientists, it is their life.
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