Friday, April 26, 2013

A Day in the Life

My lab space on the R/V Araon.
When you go on a family roadtrip most parts of the trip are amazing. Some days you wake up and the drive is beautiful, you are singing along to Disney songs and playing car games, and everyone seems to be getting along. Then there are those days, maybe only a few, when the car breaks down and it is too hot outside and you are hungry all day and your brother just won't stop poking you. Well, being on a ship is kind of like that.

It is difficult to describe life on a ship. Imagine you wake up just like any other day, and plan to get dressed and go have breakfast. Only, you wake up and you have to hold onto to your closet before you get to the bathroom because your whole room is moving. Then, once you finally manage to get dressed in the dark (because your roommate is probably sleeping), you head down to breakfast. There are 30 other people also having breakfast, who you only just met and now they are looking at your un-brushed hair. Their hair looks a little un-brushed though too.
The gym on the Araon.

The day could get interesting from here. You have your coffee, then you might put on as many clothes as you can find and go outside to see what the weather is like today. If you are lucky, it is sunny and calm with no wind, and you can see some penguins sliding on the ice in the distance, as a whale slowly passes by. This is one of those good days on the family roadtrip. You could also have no work to do today because the boat is moving for the next 12 hours to your next station, so you spend the day walking around on the deck and taking pictures, talking to your fellow scientists and eating too many cookies that the cooks left out in the galley the night before.

Mattias doing what oceanographers do best- filter!
If you are un-lucky, you go outside after breakfast and can stay out there for about 5 minutes before you feel like you might loose a toe from frostbite. You also have to change clothes once you come in because a whole pile of snow blew right into your face and down your jacket the moment you set foot on deck. Then, when you come in to change you see that your lab is flooded because the drains on the ship are all frozen because it is too cold. Next, you might have to stand and filter some seawater for the next 12 hours, then go to bed and do it all again. This is one of those bad roadtrip days.

My stateroom on the cruise, much larger than on other ships!
The good news is, in fact the great news is, is that the bad days don't happen very often. In fact, hardly at all. And when you look back on a day in the life of your average oceanographer, you only remember when you saw those penguins, that beautiful sunset, got that great data, and those wonderful friends you made. Not a bad job at all!


  1. Looks like a comfy ship, which goes a long way towards ensuring the good days outnumber the bad. I like the roadtrip analogy, I'm going to use that to describe it to people in the future. I definitely had a down day yesterday where I just closed the door to my lab (such a bonus!) and kept to myself. Today will be better :) Hi to Mattias.

    1. Have a better day Melissa! Where are you now? We are almost done with our cruise, we are heading to the Korean base tomorrow then back to Punta Arenas. Can't wait to hang out when we all get back! Talk to you soon!

  2. We had 3 days off in Hawaii which definitely helped, back on 30N now and technically headed home to San Diego, though it will be nearly 3 weeks before we get there.