D334: Monitoring ocean circulation in the Atlantic


Cruise diary

12 November 2008

Damien writes...

"To spend one month on a research ship as a scientist (even though only a masters student like me) does not only mean being in front of a computer screen, setting instruments up, or doing water sampling. Social life onboard is probably as important as rigorous scientific work and anyone who has ever participated to such an experience knows it. I’m going to present you briefly my typical day, forgetting for a while the scientific aspect but telling you a bit more about my daily organisation!

9:00 am, my alarm starts yelling at me. Fortunately, my watch begins in 3 hours time, and I can still join a few crew members on the front deck who, like me, enjoy their free-time reading, listening to music, chatting, or simply sun-bathing. Althoug a bit cloudy and windy sometimes, the weather has been quite nice since we left, not really surprising at 24°N!

11:30am, it’s time to enter John’s and Wally’s world, the galley, and share a short but nice lunch with some other hungry people! Thirty minutes later, I am in the main lab ready to do some work. I’m basically in charge of the surface meteorological processing, but I also work on a little project involving datasets from previous western boundary cruises and which aims to correlate onshore and offshore surface temperature to the oceanic circulation of the upper mid-ocean layer of the Atlantic. The members of the first watch, Craig, Malte and Gerard, are already there since 8 am and will be free to enjoy the sun by 4 pm. Maria Paz, Zoli and I have still 8 hours work ahead. Stuart, the principal scientist, and Darren, his right-hand man, are working full-time!

Right:The main science lab – the first watch is 0800-1600 and the second 1200-2000

5:30 pm, it’s dinner time! Although curiously early, it is still nice to have a break during a watch and give to your computer mouse some rest for a while. Around 6pm, the lucky ones will catch the usually beautiful sunset which lasts unfortunately only a few minutes or so. I get back to the lab, only two hours to go...The day has passed quickly once again and we start to make a plan for the evening. Some people prefer to get some rest in their cabins, others pick up a film among the large collection available and  meet those still awake in the dvd room. Afterwards, the few brave ones can still have a drink at the bar, chat about their day and share life experiences. Yesterday, George, the chief engineer who gave us a tour of the engine rooms in the afternoon, told us a bit more about his life and his work onboard. It was very nice and interesting to learn more about those who permit us to undertake our scientific work in pretty good conditions.

Right: John and Wally’s world – Discovery’s galley keeping crew and scientists well fed.

Midnight or so, it’s time to get some sleep. Tomorrow, we’ll start a 7-day transit back towards the continental slope off Moroco to recover and deploy some shallower moorings."

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