by Gadaffi Liswaniso
Almost midway through the 24oS transect from Rio to Walvis Bay onboard the James Cook research vessel on cruise JC159, and by now we don’t need to look at each other’s name tags to know who is who, just some laughter in the corridors signifying friendship. The JC is equipped with one person cabins allowing privacy for each person onboard, no one has to worry about another person’s love for broccoli during sleeping times, ha ha!! Although we are very far from our family and friends, the IT team has made sure we stay connected to the world via the onboard WiFi connection that is available in most spaces on the ship.
Time differences have been a hustle since we left port in Rio as I had to keep up with 3 different clocks: time on onboard, GMT and Namibian time to ensure I don’t call anyone back home at 2 a.m thinking it was right timing.
The RRS JC scientific crew consists of five working groups that sequentially work on the CTD after it has been hauled out, starting out with the CFCs, dissolved oxygen, carbon, nutrients, isotopes, salts and lastly either biological or microplastic sampling. Each group has a designated laboratory where they analyze their samples before arriving at the next station. Each group has 8 hours on shift plus 4 hours standby for post data analysis or any other tasks as required to perform. For sure none of all the scientific analysis would be so efficient without the ship technical crew, bravo to them!
Argo floats are also onboard to ensure continuation of data collection in the S. Atlantic; they are designed with lithium batteries that can last up to 5 years without replacement while collecting important physical data of the ocean, and operate through special missions given by the user. Not only do Argo floats stay on the water surface but they are also able to dive down to 2000 or 6000 m depending on model, thereby giving us a profile of oceanic physical data at various depths according to specific missions.
At least two emergency drills have been done since leaving port to ensure safety out at sea, orienting all aboard on the necessary steps to follow in case of an emergency, where to go, what to bring along, and how to use the safety gear for sea going purposes. We have really settled well onboard, today I even did my first laundry. We have a resourceful library, a well-equipped gym and sauna, and a lounge with various movie genres and gaming consoles to help us enjoy during rest hours. There is also a bar where we can chat over a beer or wine. The ship’s crew even went the extra mile and made a temporary seawater pool to relax in during warm sunny days out in the midst of the Atlantic.