20 June 2019

Go offshore - or not

On the first of May I went off to sea to get some samples for the project of my MSc student (yes the blog has a slight lag). I got some somewhat quick-and-dirty samples so at least we could quickly get an idea of whether the sediments yielded what we hoped they would, and to allow the student to get familiar with sample processing and foraminifera identification. Then that would be done by the time we would go out and get the proper samples!

The trial samples were 'grab samples' taken from the small boat; you have little control over where exactly you take your samples from as the boat drifts, and you have no information on the position of the coring equipment other than what the position is of the boat from which you hold the rope it dangles from. The bigger boat can hold steady, it has a box corer which leaves the top of the sediment surface intact, and the box corer can be tracked so you know exactly where your sample was from. The boat also has more sophisticated geophysical equipment so you can actually 'see' the sea floor. The small boat gives you only a grainy line.

We would leave the 8th of June; at the start of a week long cruise. We would be allowed off after our work was done. But then the plans changed; we would do the end of the cruise, leaving the 14th. But the week had had some atrocious weather and the boat had had to seek shelter in a bay. It would not be back in time to pick us up! So we were postponed again.

The plan now is that we hitch a ride on yet another cruise that happens to go in roughly the same direction. And this time it looks like we may have to do the whole thing! I am not really looking forward to being locked up on the boat for a whole working week if our work will probably only be a day, but well, I may have to. I don't think my student is keen or ready to go alone. And I can of course bring a laptop and try to get some work done, but there is always a limit to what you can do with a stand-alone computer (not the newest either) without university licenses. If I can do anything on a rocking ship. I clearly remember my experiences on the Macoma! Even though that is probably worse. So far I suspect a negative correlation between how big a vessel is and how likely I am to get woozy in the stomach sailing on it. I was fine on 120 m moloch Marion Dufresne back in the days (before the blog), even though to the left and the right of me other scientists were vomiting.

I am going to wait and see what really happens though! I suppose the way thing went so far shows you never know how boat work will go until it's happening. But I hope we'll get some proper samples! And I also hope they show us what we want them to show...

No comments: