August 16, 2006
When I woke up and peered through my cabin porthole I could see that the rainy overcast weather of yesterday had been replaced by clear, sunny skies. What's more the heaving, rolling swells have dissipated and we were traveling over much calmer water. Hooray! Both the scientists and most of the crew work twelve hour shifts, and my duty shift was not due to start until noon. Out on deck the science team from the previous shift (midnight to noon) was finishing up. It would take several hours of steaming until the ship reached the next sampling site later that afternoon, so I had free time to explore the ship.
Down on the lowest level were the engine room and the winch room. The winch room contained huge rolls of metal cable, two of which were used to control the fishing nets. The nets would not be used this time though, as our mission did not involve surveying fish populations. Another cable was connected to the large crane or boom on the rear deck that we would be using to operate the plankton trawl nets. It was operated from the winch control booth above the deck. Whenever machinery was operated on deck everyone had to wear a hard hat, steel-toed boots and a life vest. It was also advisable to wear waterproof jackets and pants (foul weather gear) if you wished to remain dry.
On the next level up from the winch room were six staterooms (sleeping cabins). All the scientists and several of the ship's officers had their berths down at this level and most people shared a cabin with one or two others. One flight of stairs up from the cabins was the main deck of the ship. On this level were the galley (kitchen), crew's lounge/dining room and officers/scientists dining room. Towards the rear of this main floor was the suite of four science labs, where I would be working most of the time.
Above the main floor were the officers' and scientists' lounge, the communication and computer rooms and several more staterooms belonging to the officers and crew members. Right at the top of the ship was the bridge or control room and the captain's quarters. Outside there were several decks - rear deck, two decks at the front or bow of the ship and the hurricane deck positioned up high in the middle of the ship.