Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Life on board the RRS James Clark Ross

So far, we've blogged lots about the science we've gotten up to on the research cruise, but of course half of our time is spent, sleeping, eating and relaxing. So here's a little bit about life outside of work on the JCR.

Rich, the purser / photographer
First of all we should mention Rich who is the purser of the JCR. The purser is in charge of things like supplies, accounts and generally looking after us and the ship. Rich used to be a chef in hotels in the North-East of England, before working as a chef at the BAS research station Halley for 4 years. Alongside keeping an eye on things and generally making us feel at home, Rich is often seen round the ship taking amazing photographs….many of which have ended up on this blog. Check out his webpage at: http://www.richardturnerphotographs.co.uk.

Typical menu - yum!

Meals are held in the 'Officer and Scientists Dining Saloon' which has lovely views across the bow of the ship. Dinner is a rather formal affair; men must wear a collared shirt, no trainers or jeans allowed and women must be similarly smart. We all have personalised napkin rings and large portraits of the Queen and Philip hang on the wall. 

The dining saloon
However, if you are on shift and don't have time to get prettied up for dinner then you can eat in the Duty Mess, which has a much more informal atmosphere. Tea, coffee and snacks can also be found here at all hours. In the galley we are spoilt by the talented Sam and John, two excellent chefs who feed us very well indeed... Big cooked breakfasts, three course lunches and five course dinners (pass the cheese board!). It is a good thing working at sea is quite a physical job or we would all be disembarking twice our usual size! We also have four Stewards who assist in the galley, serve meals and clean the communal areas. 

The scientists lounge
The Officer and Scientists Lounge is another place you can fill your boots with cups of tea and snacks. This is a lovely relaxing space with a darts board (fun in rough weather), board games, ping pong, music, and a well stocked bar. Ellen (our unofficial events coordinator) organises the occasional 'pub quiz' here and we use the projector to show films in the evenings. 

One of our favourite pastimes is to climb all the way up to the top of the ship, the 'Monkey Island', to watch for wildlife, take in the horizon and get a blast of fresh air. On clear nights this is also a popular destination; we will all wrap up in lots of cosy layers and spend time out here stargazing. 

Enjoying the views on the Monkey Island

There is a gym with a rowing machine, cross-trainer, bike and step-machine where we can burn off those extra calories from 2nd helpings of desert. The rolling of the ship sometimes makes this extra challenging! The ship also has a small surgery where you can find Hazel, the ship's doctor. I am happy to report that she has been very bored during the cruise and her expertise has not been needed!


When we are on shift but (but not sampling or running instruments in the lab spaces) we spend most of our time in the UIC (Underway Instrumentation Control room). The UIC has panoramic views, email (but not internet) access, lots of desk space and is where CTD and other hydrographic operations are run from. Below the UIC is a warren of labs: the 'Wet-lab' where the VMP was set up; the 'Main lab' which is where we measure the tracer; other smaller lab spaces for the Salinometer (to measure salinity), measuring oxygen, barium, carbon and nutrient samples and the 'water bottle annex' where the CTD comes in and we collect our samples.
A cabin

On this cruise we are lucky enough to all have a cabin to ourselves.  Each cabin has 2 or 4 bunks, desk, wardrobe, en-suite shower room and (of course) a sea view. So, staying on the JCR is like moving into a very friendly hotel that takes you to amazing places….and works you very hard!

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