Notes from the Field: Rachel MorrisonPosted by grantanne2 on Jun 29, 2011 in Featured • No comments
On board the Sea Dragon: Life at an angle
After weeks at sea in the Pacific, I have mastered the art of walking at an angle. The easterly winds in this part of the world have been pushing the Sea Dragon north along on a starboard tack, meaning that the wind is coming from the right and causing the boat to roll over to the left. Every step is a fight against gravity. Tasks that would be all too simple on land, such as preparing a meal or even walking from your bunk to the head, become challenging. I’ve learned to time my motions to the rolling of the ship, an especially important consideration when pouring boiling water for tea!
In addition to walking Matrix-style, there are many other aspects of ship life that may strike a landlubber as strange. The language is uniquely nautical: the kitchen is the galley, the eating area is the saloon, and the bathroom is the head. There is no floor – only a deck (topside) and sole (below decks).
Moreover, sailing on the Sea Dragon doesn’t exactly qualify as a typical research cruise. On this ship, we are both passengers and crew. We have two teams that rotate through five watches a day:
0600-1200: clean ship (galley, soles, walls, heads) and make lunch
1200-1800: clean up after lunch and make dinner 1800-2200: clean up after dinner
In addition to these duties, someone must of course be steering. Either the captain (Clive) or the first mate (Emily) is awake at all times to supervise and keep an eye on the weather. When we are off watch, we can do whatever we like – sleep, hang out on deck, or in my case, enter fish data!
Though the schedule can be demanding, there is nothing quite like sailing under the stars, or seeing dolphins riding waves off the bow, or hauling in a surface trawl that is aglow with bioluminescence. We are on the last leg of our trip now, heading to Honolulu. While I am looking forward to my first hot shower in six weeks, I am loath for this amazing journey to end.