December 14, 2008
Maintenance aboard a ship is constant. Previous sailors used to worry about wood rotting while the modern sailor worries about rust. Due to the positive ions in saltwater it has a particular attraction to metal. Sailors aboard the REVELLE are constantly grinding, sanding, and air-blasting rust, old paint, and layers of salt off the surface of the REVELLE to replace it with a fresh coat of primer and paint. On shore you land-lovers may have to worry about termites, while at sea the constant contact of salt-water cause continual maintenance aboard the ship. If the ship has a problem there is no Wal-Mart or Home Depot to go to. All the supplies for emergencies that the ship may encounter have to be onboard ready at a moment's notice. The crew is always on-call if something occurs in the middle of the day or night they have to be ready to respond, which they do with proficiency. They are constantly practicing safety drills to prepare for any emergency at sea. The ship can't call 911 for an emergency. Research vessels are often in isolated locations and the nearest help would probably be many hours away if not days. Safety aboard the ship is very important.
The food is very good and there is always a variety to choose from. A vegetarian diet is available as well as a more hearty meat and potatoes diet. The onboard cooks work long days on the ship and keep quite busy. You will always find a dessert left out at night for a snack during a late night shift. All the ice cream you can eat, nuts, candy, cereal, soft drinks, and coffee help keep everyone full and content, which is important when you are away from home and working long hours.
The ship is always in constant state of inspection to see if things are tied down properly, everything that may become a hazard in rough seas has to be continually stowed away. The waters have not been too rough so far. We have had some swells reaching 7-8 feet but nothing extraordinary. Some aboard have sailed these waters before and are amazed at the stretch of good weather we have had so far. However, many think this will change as we get further south toward the Falklands where we could get much larger swells, strong gale force winds, and inclement weather. So the crew is always making sure everything is secure especially before they leave their station for the night. On the open seas you can never predict when a big swell may cause the ship to roll or list suddenly, scattering expensive equipment everywhere and possibly causing danger to the crew. Yesterday was a perfect sunny day with warm temperatures, then all the sudden at 6:00 pm the ship disappeared into a wall of fog that is still with us this morning. The light mist makes the conditions outside very cool, damp, and slightly uncomfortable.
Questions of the day: