Friday, April 2, 2010

Jenna and Mandy on a Boat (Part 1 of 2): Life at Sea

So this week (Sunday through Friday) Jenna and I accompanied a team of scientists from Anamar, an environmental consulting firm in Gainesville, who had been hired by the EPA to do a survey for a future site for dredge dump materials. Part two of this post series will describe the work we did, but first I want to describe our life at sea on the OSV Bold.

Any sailor knows that safety is of the utmost importance on a boat. If something hits the fan it's important to know that you can remain calm, get to your muster station, and look good doing it. Enter the Gumby Suit:

The Gumby Suit (or Immersion Suit if you're a stickler) is designed to keep you alive if you are so unfortunate as to find yourself in the water for any length of time. I personally felt like I was drowning in the suit itself and was grateful they didn't feel the need to add water for this particular exercise.

In addition to the safety briefing, during our first day at sea we also got our shift assignments. Jenna and I were on the trawl team and our shift was from 8-12 both a.m. and p.m., additionally chipping in when extra help was needed or when people needed relieving at meal times which were from 7-8, 11:30-12:30, and 4:30-5:30. Of course food was available in the galley and break room 24 hours a day as Jenna and I quickly discovered.

Several crew members told us about the ice cream available in the freezer. We thanked them, but didn't feel the need to tell them that we had discovered at least one of the ice cream stashes within a few hours of our arrival.

Also within a few hours of our arrival (or rather our departure from the dock)...seasickness. I did not capture on film the image of me vomiting over the side of the boat (collective sigh of relief), but afterwards I lay down for a few hours and was fit as a fiddle for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately my bout of seasickness did cause me to miss one meal, but I more than made up for it over the course of the trip. Throughout the day Jenna and I made frequent trips to the galley for what we termed "fortifying cookies," candy, coffee, and water. This room really was central to our seafaring life. The chef was amazing and we didn't want her to feel unappreciated.

In fact, Jenna and I probably spent more time in the galley and the wet lab (where we did most of our work) than we did in this room.

And it had nothing to do with the fact that over the course of the week the room became filled with clothes covered in fish scales and invertebrate goo, and the cryptically named "vomit sweatshirt." We were just really busy! The room was actually very nice and pretty spacious for a ship cabin. To the left of the above picture there was even a desk where we could catch up on some informative reading.

As you can see Jenna and I took our new roles as sailors very seriously. I'm thinking of getting a subscription to WorkBoat to add a touch of the sea to my landlubbing existence. I think that the rest of the crew could tell how committed we were, because after a brief tutorial...

They let Jenna and I drive the boat! Although I think the engineers in particular were unimpressed with our driving. During my turn at the helm they called up to the bridge to make sure that everything was ok and that the chief mate (who was on shift at the time) hadn't been hijacked or drinking on the job.

Also during our last days we did manage to grab a few moments of downtime on the steel beach on the bridge deck. In this next shot, the part of Jenna and I will be played by our echidna traveling companion.

We had a great time, but we also worked hard. Next post I'll talk about the work that we and the other scientists conducted during the trip. In hindsight, maybe I should have posted about the work part first, but I was just trying to set the stage. I promise we did work Gustav!!

:) Mandy

No comments: