Jul. 18 2019

For my last blog post this cruise, I want to take a step away from the science aboard the ship and rather talk about what life is like aboard the R/V Falkor and the top three things I have taken away from this experience. While I have only been aboard the ship for a week, I have met so many different people on different paths, from different places, all with different stories. From the Navy to yachts, from Estonia to Australia, everyone aboard has a past full of skills, wisdom, and humor that makes the Falkor an incredible place to learn. So here are the three most important things I have learned from Falkor:

Another beautiful sunset aboard the Falkor while mapping the Phobos seamount.
Students Isabelle and Sydney and artist David in the engine room getting a tour from the chief engineer.

1. A science nerd can also operate a J-frame
All crew members aboard this vessel are super versatile and are capable of so much more than their job title. While setting up the magnetometer, we watched as our technicians were using crane and deck equipment to lower the instrument safely into the water. I was so excited to see nautical science and marine science meet in this application. I have determined the importance of being knowledgeable and capable of doing more than just your specialty. Marine techs work with deck equipment; engineers understand sonar mapping; the deck officers understand how their ship’s engine works. It is kind of like one size fits all. If you want to work aboard a research vessel, you need to be versatile. Specialties are really not an option in this setting.

2. It is okay to be seasick
We cannot all have our sea legs the first moment we set to sail, so it is always okay to ask for help. While trying to figure out a solution to our queasy stomachs, we were helped out by ginger from the chefs, advice from the marine techs, and support from the artist aboard. There was never a moment that I felt like we were on our own. Any question we had was met with more than enough answers. Any advice we needed was given with no questions asked. I felt as if I could ask anyone aboard for help in any situation.

Students Isabela and Sydney play along with the crew’s practical joke supplying the marine tech a “long weight.”

3. Know you are never safe from a practical joke
While the Falkor is a working research vessel, there is always room for humor and fun. In this case, amidst running up and down the ship’s stairs looking for a long weight (“wait”- we soon found out), my fellow student and I realized we were part of a practical joke planted by the lead technician.

The atmosphere aboard the vessel is so important to the morale of its workers. Being at sea for long periods of time can be difficult especially if away from family, friends, and home. Making jokes, having fun, and completing your duties is completely possible and if anything makes your job that much more enjoyable. While we felt like idiots by the end, we enjoyed a good laugh out of it. My grandfather always tells me, “You’ll never work a day in your life doing something you love.” The crew aboard this vessel has taught me the importance of humor and fun while working, and that if you are laughing and enjoying yourself yet completing your tasks to your full ability, you will never feel like you are truly working.