All at Sea

My last oceanography expedition was phenomenal. Life at sea teaches many lessons. Sure, there were some rough seas and less than perfect accommodations, but in the name of science you put up with some adversity. It is all par for the course. After all, a science ship is not a luxury liner. All in all, however, I managed to make do with the various amenities offered; and they weren’t half bad. Follow along with me for a mental tour of my floating surroundings.

Large ships seem ample until you are on them for some time. Then they become small. Be that as it may, if you walk around a ship of this nature, you will sooner or later come across the engine room. Take a look inside. The Chief Engineer may give you a briefing and some pointers. Amble onward and you eventually get to a laundry area and gym. You have to abide by their hours. Fortunately for us exercise buffs, there is gear for weight and endurance training. The usual suspects are there: treadmill, rowing machine, exercise bike, and stair stepper. Mosey a little further for the main lounge next to the conference room, stocked with movies and books.

Now we get to the cabins. Mine has two bunk beds, a head and a shower. Pretty basic. Not surprisingly, it comes equipped with TV/VCR, and an Internet connection. It is modest sleeping quarters so you tend to want to get out and go to the dayroom if you have leisure time. If you want to log data, you can do it from several locations and access the general computer system. You can also do it from the very same cabin.

When you are hungry, it is time to visit the mess hall open twenty-four hours a day. It is on the starboard side of the main deck. Food is adequate if not occasionally tasty. Dietary needs are accommodated. If you are a late-night snacker, there is always something available.

One of the comforts of home not provided is a good pillow, so I brought my special pillow for stomach sleepers along for the ride. I have gotten rather used to it, so tucking into my tote was a prerequisite for being ready. It is amazing how small it can fold up to be. You get blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and towels, so this is the only extra you need to take with you. Sleeping in a different bed can be a challenge until you get used to it, so having a good pillow will make you feel more at ease.

You have to keep a regimen while onboard a science ship as in the military. No tardiness or excuses are allowed. If your sleep patterns don’t fall into place, you will be tired and weary each morning, unable to focus and concentrate. It pays to pay attention to this problem before you head out to sea. I have my plan of attack in my luggage and it always provides the rest I need. People say when you board a ship, you should leave your prior life on land. For me, this is not possible!