Getting away from it all

March 11, 2009

In our everyday lives, we are inundated with technological widgets that connect us to the rest of the world. Newspapers, journal articles, television, email, and of course, the internet, provide us with constant sources of information about what is going on in the world around us. Out at sea, most of those resources are unavailable, making an ocean-going expedition a way to truly “get away from it all.”

Getting away from it all has its advantages. The lack of distractions helps everyone focus on their work, and a lot of work gets done on a research cruise. There is no such thing as a weekend on a ship — every day is a workday — so everyone is working every day. Also, there is not much to do on a ship other than work, so a lot of data collection and analysis get done (not that there are no entertainment options, but that’s for another post). The scientists have time to talk about the data they are collecting, plan collaborations, and catch up on writing for other projects. A final advantage of being disconnected from shore is that we have chosen to ignore the time change that goes along with daylight savings time and time zones as we sample eastward until we get back.

Being unplugged from the world has its disadvantages as well. Being disconnected from land means that there are no new inputs of food, so once our fresh fruits and veggies run out or spoil, we will be eating frozen and canned food until we return. It is also much more difficult to stay up-to-date on what is happening in the world and our lives, though the Information Technology (IT) group on the ship works hard to help keep us connected through email.

Check in tomorrow to learn how the IT staff help us stay connected while out at sea.

—Amanda Kahn