Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
2017 Gray's Reef Research Cruise Photos
Mission Information

Gray's Reef Research
Expeditions 2017

Saturday: June 10, 2017
Log Day 2

Aria Remondi
Gray's Reef Deputy Superintendent for Operations (Detail)
Savannah, GA

The NOAA Ship Nancy Foster left the port in Charleston at 10:00am today so I am officially getting my first taste of ship life. We are transiting most of the day today and should arrive at Gray's Reef tonight. But even though the real mission doesn't start until tomorrow I'm excited. As a newbie to a ship, I'm experiencing all this for the first time, and while I am mostly excited I was concerned about a few things before coming on board. Will I know what to do every day? Can I get a survival suit on fast enough? Will the eating schedule be hard to stick to? Will I be able to walk in a straight line while the ship is rolling? Can I sleep on a ship? Will this be the first time I get sea sick? I was not concerned about the food though - I had heard that was going to be delicious.

Today is a prep day so the schedule is not typical for the rest of the trip, but here is what my first day on a ship looked like.

0640: Wake up, get dressed. The ship doesn't care that it is Saturday.

0700-0730: The mess is open for breakfast. I had been told that food on the ship was good but I was not prepared to be offered options between omelets, waffles, bacon, and oatmeal as well as fresh fruit and coffee. What a great way to start the day.

A view of the launch ship as the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster passes under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

A view of the launch ship as the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster passes under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and out of Charleston, SC.
(Photo: Aria Remondi, NOAA)

0730-0800: Those of us in the science crew have a pre-trip meeting. By this point we have all met each other but we have to plan out our day and prepare for individual projects.

0800-1000: The crew is busy prepping the ship for departure from the dock, which from what I can tell, involves a lot of crackly voices on the radio and testing of doors. Meanwhile the science crew gets to work on prepping its project work as well as checking dive gear.

1000-1030: We depart from the dock a few minutes late because of vessel traffic, but we are underway! We cruise under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge out of Charleston, SC and we are heading out to the ocean!

1030-1100: Work continues as it did before departure. My room locks from the inside though not me or my three roommates are in it, I will need to ask someone if active ships can be haunted.

Members of the science team and ship crew in survival suits during ship drills.

Members of the science team and ship crew in survival suits during ship drills.
(Photo: Aria Remondi, NOAA)

1100-1200: The mess is open for lunch. Options for lunch include soup, Mexican pork chops, and chicken salad sandwiches. We are a big crew and there aren't enough seats for everyone, so during mealtime you have to eat and get out. At lunch I am in and out in 15 minutes, apparently it doesn't take long to get used to that.

1200-1330 Okay we aren't heading out to the ocean. The Captain alerts us to a critical network issue which may affect our operations. We are hanging nearshore so that we can stay in cell phone range until we tell everyone about the change. It is unclear how seriously this will affect operations for mission, but it will definitely change things.

1330: The Operations Officer gives us the welcome briefing for the ship. He runs us through requirements, safety measures, standard operations, and a basic introduction to where and when everything happens on the ship.

Haley Haynes in survival suit during ship drills.

Haley Haynes in survival suit during ship drills.
(Photo: Aria Remondi, NOAA)

1400: Immediately after that we and the whole crew have to do ship drills. Those start with a long bell, signaling a fire drill, and we all head to the back deck to be counted. A few minutes later we hear seven short bells followed by one long bell. That is the signal for the abandon ship drill. We all go to our rooms, grab our survival suits and life jackets and head to the O-1 deck. There we all wiggle into large, thick red onesies with Mickey Mouse sized hands which make zipping up the onesie quite difficult. As a newbie I must say I am glad they run us through this. I don't think I will exactly be calm if there is an emergency, but at least I know the basics. And I know everyone looks silly in a survival suit.

1500: We are heading out to the ocean! I do not know the details but we are told the network won't be too much of a problem for at least the first couple of days so we are continuing towards Gray's Reef!

1500-1700: This was my wander the ship time. I sit on the bow and look at the ocean on all sides. I practice walking straight while the ship rolls. I contemplate using the treadmill and then decide that if I can't walk straight I probably am not advanced enough for the treadmill yet. I do something wrong and am informed as such by the crew (very nicely). I sit in the comfy chairs and read a little. I talk to a few of the other 36 or so people on this tiny floating village.

Inside the wet lab aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.

Inside the wet lab aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.
(Photo: Aria Remondi, NOAA)

1700-1730: Halfway through the time the mess is open I head to dinner. I choose to have turkey casserole and spinach followed by cheesecake. I have noticed that my day is totally revolving around meals. This will likely continue.

1730-2000: I write this blog and think about what I have learned today and what random thoughts I have had. This ship makes its own water! And it makes water faster when it's underway than it will when it gets to Gray's Reef. The levels of the ship seem to align roughly with rank - that makes sense but I hadn't thought about it before. The food is great as expected. There is so much happening all the time on this ship but there are a few people I haven't seen all day. On the other hand it does feel like there is always someone around to talk to, which makes the ship feel really friendly. It is also amazing that it only took two hours into the trip for something to go wrong. I expected something to eventually go wrong (basic Murphy's Law), but wow that was quick! I'm sure there will be even more to learn tomorrow, and hopefully no more problems.

2000-end of day: Prepare for the next day, read a little, and watch dolphins swimming near the ship and a beautiful sunset over the endless sea. So far, I am really liking life on a ship.


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