Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Meet the JOIDES Resolution

I have completely neglected updating the blog. All the new things to do, all the people to meet, all the things to learn. I wrote the following on the 2nd of December, just after coming on the ship but before leaving:
I’ve been in Australia now for over week, but have spent the largest part of it on a ship tied to the dock. JOIDES Resolution had a 5 day port call, for refuelling, restocking, etc. During the day we had meetings, introductions, tours to the labs and some parts of the ship, but there will be more tours later during our trip. In the evenings we were free to do whatever we wanted so I got to spend some more time in Fremantle. I must admit at the beginning I didn’t understand why so many people were so positive about Freo (local for Fremantle) but having spent some more time here now I see it. There are some nice restaurants, interesting shops and friendly people here. Bizarrely or surprisingly it was always busy. I first arrived here in the weekend so it made sense that it was bursting with life, but it was busy during the week too, and not just in the evenings. I don’t suppose they are all locals, apparently Perth-ians(?), Perthonians(?), Perthites(?), come here too. No, wait, perthite is a feldspar, perthite twinning that’s right… Hang on, does it take its name from Perth? Does anyone know? I digress, sorry J
By the fifth day everyone was eager to get started. There’s a few newbies among us and you can see it that they are a bit stressed, mostly because they don’t know how the sea will affect them and secondarily because they don’t know what to anticipate in terms of work. I can’t forget, will never forget the first time I was going on a research cruise and how I felt. It’s normal to be a bit scared, it’s so uncommon what we do, how can they not be apprehensive and worried? I remember how in awe of it all I was! I think I still am, particularly the moment we sail out of a port and I see the people on the dock watching us go, waving at us and I wonder what might they think of us…? I know I’d be jealous and I would be in awe of what those people on that ship are going out there to do. How many people around the world do what we do? Not to mention how legendary and historical Joides Resolution is which adds to my wonderment and dazzle! Thanks to Ireland and the opportunities it offers me I get to be the second or third Greek to come on this ship! I’ll be flying the Irish flag later on together with my other Irish buddy who’s onboard, Dave.
The plan was to sail on the 1st, that was yesterday. And while one could say we stuck to the schedule and left the dock, we haven’t actually gone far. New Zealand is introducing a new law that requires or vessels that enter their territorial waters to go on quarantine and they could keep them outside of Kiwi territory for as long as 10-14 days in order to clean their hulls and make sure they’re not introducing any invading species. So we decided to do this ourselves before leaving Australia as here it will take us 2 days, compared to the two weeks in NZ. Two weeks is our actual work program, in which case we would just be escorting the ship to NZ ready for the next expedition but not ours! The difference is that here it is done by a ship that can hose us down, whereas in NZ they bring divers (probably with toothbrushes judging by the time it takes them). Regardless, excitement rippled through the ship and everyone came out to Steal Beach (named so for being made of steal and hosting a couple of sun loungers hahahaha – people on ships are very inventive), which is on the deck above the Bridge, where we could see the land leave us and we could wave goodbye to the people on the dock.

The ship is A-mazing! It’s a drill ship, with a giant derrick (the drill rig) in the middle. It’s not a research ship like the ones I am used to and there is an enormous amount of personnel, crew and technicians. 

There are a lot of parts of the ship that we are simply not allowed on, particularly while coring and drilling for safety reasons. We will be taken there but as part of a tour. The labs are the stuff of dreams. I’ll post some pictures once the work starts and the instruments are operating. The cabins are quite spacious with bunk beds and shared by two people. For obvious reasons (my height) I took the lower bunk. There is a conference room where we are usually gathered and give talks, have meetings, conversations. But there is also a recreational lounge, with board games and books and even a guitar and a piano for anyone musically inclined. Next door to the lounge is the movie room, essentially a movie theatre with three sofas which also doubles as an exercise room for DVD workouts. I plan to go for yoga there. There is also a gym, very well equipped and unusually spacious. Most gyms I’ve seen on ships before are restricted in small rooms but this one is a joy to use and while we’ve been in port and at anchor I’ve visited it every day. When we are truly underway I don’t know how the sea state will be and how my body will react, but I’m hoping to be able to carry on. I’ve also found a nice little corner in the back of the microscopy room in the core lab, kind of hidden, where I’ve set up my laptop and I don’t get distracted or interrupted. Only Dave and Joshu know where to find me. Now you don’t realise just how hard it is to hide and isolate yourself in a ship, so really pleased with my find!

More soon, I promise!

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