When Your Home Bobs

by Jennie Mowatt Mon, 28 Jul 2008 6:23 PM PDT

In some ways, two weeks on a research cruise can make you feel as if you’re taking part in a bad movie. The group of ragtag individuals, some with little in common, some with lifetimes of stories together, unite under the common goal of surviving. Only this time it’s a little less perilous and is almost guaranteed to end with everyone alive.
What brings this band together is that each individual is striving towards the common scientific goal. They’ve decided to forego any notions of wealth and power in search of that greater idea in life--the unknown abyss. It’s a lifestyle that results in long hours, incredible conditions, and occasionally a crash on the bottom. But in the end, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Because science is based on the system where a 50% failure rate is wonderful, we go to sea. Without traversing into the unknown, how will we ever grow as individuals and as a society?
Your day begins when your project begins. And that can be at any time. You grab meals when you can; the phrase “relaxing lunch” means nothing. You take a cue from that seagull flying overhead and swallow whatever food you can manage in the quickest amount of time. Then it’s back to work- processing data, prepping equipment or launching a vehicle.

Often, even though you’ve just spent almost 8 straight hours hunched over a computer, a map, or a console, you’ll happily work the evening out and continue into tomorrow because it doesn’t feel like work--it feels like life. Occasionally you’ll join the land of the hollow eyed, those who wake when others are just settling in for the night. In science, it’s unavoidable that at some point in time, you will pull that 24, 36 or 48 hour shift. But it doesn’t matter because your fellow scientists are counting on you.

Even though you just met that person you’re working alongside, you find that there will be an unequivocal amount of cooperation and acceptance between the both of you. Everyone’s opinion is considered no matter the experience behind it. You will gladly pitch in and help one another because that’s the only kind of attitude that can prosper in such an open and exciting environment.

Falling asleep in a night of calm seas evokes memories reminiscent of when you were a child, tucked into your parent’s bed at night, the gentle rise and fall of their chest lulling you to sleep. Not only was it the deepest you’ve ever slept but the most content. That is until the loud grinding of the bow thruster kicks in. Right below you. At 2 o’clock in the morning. Cue the punch line from the comedic actor.