Going to sea


I will be on a scientific cruise aboard the RRS Discovery for the entire month of March. Tomorrow, we sail from Tenerife. The experiment is called PiLAB and the cruise involves scientists from 5 institutions and 3 countries, who will be picking up ocean-bottom magnetometers and seismometers that were deployed in February 2016. The data will be used to investigate the nature of tectonic plates.

Slightly nervous about this trip. Even though I have done fieldwork many times, often in challenging environments, this is my first scientific cruise. I am not counting a day on a ship as a postdoc at Scripps, where we tested equipment offshore San Diego, but were close enough to see my house. I have never been seasick before, but there is a first time for everything. The biggest uncertainty was what to pack. I am used to going places where I can usually buy most things that I might forget. Nevertheless, I suspect that my 5 pairs of shoes might not be needed.

Flight was uneventful. A bit surreal to be on a plane of people going on a winter holiday to Tenerife, but I paid for ‘speedy boarding’ to avoid the riff-raff. Nevertheless, I ended up helping an elderly couple navigate the challenging alpha-numeric seat numbering system of modern aeroplanes. They paid extra to sit in a seat with extra legroom, only to be moved – felt a bit sorry for them.

Equipment. Not my usual packing list: steel-toed boots, coveralls, work gloves, hard hat, safety goggles, knife, Leatherman, seasickness tablets, camera, laptop, an amazing collection of electrical wires, connectors and adaptors – the Brunel-duck (the Bristol geophysics mascot). However, despite remembering DVDs to watch, I forgot to bring my CD/DVD player – why did Mac get rid of this feature in the new MacBook-Pros?

Preparation. A few weeks ago I managed to pass my sea-survival course – top of the class, in my opinion. Something I learned is that I would not want be entombed in a tiny inflatable life-raft in rough seas with 9 other people. I also had to get an ENG-1 Seafarer Medical Certificate.




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