Ship life (Q & A from readers)

I’ve been busy with sampling and analyzing water and ice. After receiving a few emails from friends and family on land, I’m writing a post about life aboard the Healy.
Ship life, especially with the Coast Guard, is different than life on shore. Although we crossed the international dateline at the beginning of the cruise and are now back in the western hemisphere, the Healy has maintained Alaskan time throughout our trip. Planning and sticking to a schedule is very important for keeping a ship full of people organized to complete the science mission. Time is especially important for meals. There are four meals throughout the day, breakfast (0645–0745), lunch (1100–1200), dinner (1700–1800), and mid rats (2300–2345). Short for midnight rations, mid rats is designed for people working the overnight watch, and also for scientists who work through the night. Mid rats is a bit of a food gamble, because unlike the other meals that have a posted menu, mid rats can be anything from fried food to leftovers to breakfast or something new the mess staff cooks up.

As for the other meals, there’s a bit of a schedule, including taco Tuesday, wok Wednesday, fish Friday, morale meals on Saturday nights, and usually a carved meat served with potatoes on Sunday. The morale meal is when the mess/galley/cooking staff gets time off, and other departments take turn cooking and serving food. Usually the meal is something that’s easy to cook, such as pizza, and dessert is usually ice cream, which increases my morale! As some of you know, the ship has run out of fresh vegetables. We’re on our last bit of fresh fruit, grapefruits and oranges. When we get back I’ll be eating lots of fresh produce.

Free time on the ship is spent in a variety of ways. There are some group activities planned, which occur after the morale meal on Saturday evenings. This event varies, with past events being Harry Potter movie marathons, Christmas movies when we were at the Pole, sumo night (with the large sumo suits), and this week’s event is a talent show. On Thursday evenings there is trivia. I’m on a team with other scientists, and thus far we’ve done pretty well. Every round has a Coast Guard question, which my team struggles to get right.

Working out on the ship is also a free time activity. The Healy is nice because it has two gyms, one on the 2nd deck (the ship basement), and one in the helicopter hanger. The gym on the 2nd deck has free weights and also weight machines, and the hanger gym is mostly cardio equipment. I prefer to run, which challenges my balance when we are underway. The waves act as hills, which is a bit odd to get used to. Sometimes the motion is too much, and I have to hold onto the machine to not fall off! There are also group workout sessions, however, I’m usually busy at those times, and have not attended.

The scientists have a lounge space, with tables for working and playing games. A favorite activity of most of the scientists is working on the New York Times crossword puzzles. We receive an abbreviated version of the daily paper, and we work on the puzzles as a group. A few people play cribbage or other games, with Bananagrams, Bonanza and Monopoly Deal being a few favorites. There’s also a TV, which shows the ship’s two movie channels. The daily feature films are posted in the Plan of The Day, or the posted schedule for each day. We also watch live feeds around the ship, because it’s a lot warmer to watch sampling gear deployment inside rather than outside.

That’s all for now. If you have any other questions or would like to say hi, feel free to email my ship email address: alison.agather(at)healy.polarscience.(net).​

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