RRS Discovery cruise 366: 18 June 2011


Almost two weeks are gone

The first time I went on board the RRS Discovery I was disorientated and a bit worried about the life on board a ship. Some people were working to take on all the research equipment, there were boxes everywhere and the ship seemed to be a labyrinth!

Our blog entry today has a different flavour. Cecilia Balestreri, from the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, gives us her personal impressions of what life is like on board, including the social side, and what it feels like to participate

I helped to load some stuff and then I didn’t know what to do, so I watched the other researchers. They were fixing down all their equipment and I started to do the same. Using bungee ropes, metal eyelets, gaffer tape, etc. I made all my stuff stable in the lab, against the eventual rough seas.

Later, I started to have a look about the structure of the ship and to search for where my cabin was!

The Discovery has a comfortable lunch room (see photo) where all the people meet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I needed to get used to the hours of dinner, because it’s quite early (17:30 in the after noon), but the food is really good and the Discovery staff members are nice and friendly!

Left: One of the cabins (each scientist has their own)<br />Right: Lunch on the RRS Discovery

Every day, Jeff, our steward makes our beds... the ship it’s a kind of moving hotel! If you need to wash your clothes there is a washing room, if you need chocolate you can buy something at the on board shop and if you want to stay trim there is a small gym.

There are also two video rooms, with lots of DVDs and VHSs and a nice bar-room (see photo), where people can have a drink, and relax.

And the relaxation is necessary, because on the ship you work a lot! There’s no day or night. We start to work early in the morning and sometimes we finish late in the evening, but it’s a great opportunity to study the real life cycle of different organisms and to do interesting measurements and after a bit you get used to it! All the researchers are available to explain their work and we often have meetings to decide step by step what to do and to share our results in real time. The meetings are useful for comparing results and for understanding how everything fits together. You can learn a lot of things on a cruise!

In the bar, Cecilia is nearest to the camera

The lab is on the main deck and everyone has his or her own space. During our experiments we listen to some music and I’m lucky, because my colleagues have great music! When I need a break I can have tea or coffee and I can go outside on the deck to watch the sea and to breathe fresh air.

The sea offers always a suggestive show... sometimes the water is so blue as to seem black, sometimes it is grey, as in winter paints. A few days ago we were fortunate and we saw three dolphins! It was really exciting! They were swimming fast in front of the ship... they fully represented the idea of freedom!

The sea sometimes is rough and for few days, especially at the beginning, this could be annoying!

I think the best thing to do is take a tablet and go to bed and the seasickness is gone!

The second day of sailing there was a safety drill, to demonstrate what you must do in case something goes wrong. When we go out on the deck we must wear a hard hat and boots, because safety is really important on a ship.

At the beginning I didn’t know my cruise-mates and I felt a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable, but all the people asked me if I was fine and helped me if I needed, so I started to feel more confident and also I knew some girls in my same situation and I understood that there wasn’t any reason to be scared, because a lot of people can help you and make you comfortable and happy.

A research cruise is a fundamental instrument to study directly the environment and to collect data and samples and to monitor them in real time, using special tools. I think I’m really lucky to be on this cruise and I hope to do good work and to collect a lot of interesting samples, which will provide me great material for my next study project. It’s a great opportunity!


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