What to pack

If you have been to sea many times, packing is no doubt a fairly simple task and you seldom forget something. However, for many of us on DY-072, this is the first time on a scientific cruise. I am happy to have remembered all the cables and adaptors that I need, but brought too many warm clothes. I am getting a lot of wear out of my steel-toed work boots and hard hat, but not my coveralls and safety goggles. Also, I could have really done with more gym clothes and T-shirts, but my flip-flops have been unnecessary as you cannot wear them around the ship. And even though I remembered the box set of “The Office (USA)”, which a friend kindly lent me for the cruise, I forgot my DVD/CD player – fortunately, as Senior Scientist, my room has a TV and DVD player! On any future cruise, I would definitely bring some good coffee and a coffee maker. I have been saved by the MT guys, who make some of the best filter coffee I have tasted in years.

One thing I really wished I had brought was a small collapsible fishing rod. Chris from the MT lab fashioned a jig for squid fishing from wire and electrical tape and Kiwi Dan managed to actually catch one. Apparently, lots of tasty fish have been caught on previous cruises, which the cooks are normally happy to prepare. The squid (pictured) was saved because no one knew how to kill it.

To see if I am not alone in my ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, I have asked my shipmates three questions: what have they forgotten; what did they bring too much of or is unnecessary; and what are they really happy to have remembered. I got this idea from a recent blog by Bristol colleagues, Laura Robinson and Kate Hendry, who were on a cruise in the Southern Ocean a year or so ago. I’ll start with the most experienced sailors (Ted has been going to sea for nearly 50 years) and end with the novices. 

Name (times at sea) Forgotten Too much or not needed Essentials
Ted (>70) Nothing Spare safety PPE (hard hat, boots, etc.) Microwave popcorn
OBS Martin (>50) More work shirts Peanut butter Kindle
Wayne (> 50) Nail clippers; French chocolate; Good work boots Running socks Chocolate (duty free – not as good as French); Earl Grey tea
Chris (>50) More books Long trousers Coffee
ResTech Martin (>40) Hammock; sunglasses Too many jumpers Tea
Jake (>30) Nail clippers T-shirts Coffee
Sean (>25) Gigantic bag of pretzels; More power strips Long trousers Starburst and Sour Patch Kids candies
Carlos (>10) Booze (but it is not allowed anyway) Party mix of nuts, corn, etc. Books
Dan (6) Plug adaptors 2.5 decades of seismic reflection / refraction data NZ Chocolate
Simone (4) Steel toed boots (still in container of previous cruise) Nothing Toiletries (forgot them on previous cruise)
Matthew (2) Speakers Towels Work boots
Kate (1) Nothing Sunscreen Coffee and Aeropress; Maps, software, previous cruise reports
Owain (first) More shorts Too many jumpers Laptop
Océane (first) Steel toed safety boots; good cheese Socks Books and music
Sai (first) Internet (poor connection); books Socks Laptop; maps, programmes, etc.
Michaela (first) Chocolate; non-gym clothes Extra computer peripherals Warm fleece for the lab
Peter (first) Only has one pair of shoes – his work boots; not enough music Too many shirts, as he wasn’t sure about laundry. Books
Mike (first) Not enough gym wear; DVD/CD player; fishing gear Warm clothes; Sunscreen Power cables; Books; DVDs

A general theme is that most of us brought too many warm clothes. Coffee and chocolate seem to be common creature comforts. Our French colleagues all have issues with work boots – Wayne’s self-destructed on their first station-servicing and there is still a trail of rubber around the lab. Forgetting electronics and peripherals is common, but also apparently nail clippers are easily forgotten.

In a second survey, I asked ‘what are you missing most?’, but I gave the condition that it could not be a person. Food on the ship is much better than I expected, but is a common theme in what people miss: Matthew is missing fresh fruit and veg; Chris is missing Mexican food; Océane is missing cheese, charcuterie and other delicatessen food; Kate misses lightly cooked fresh vegetables. I am missing good red wine, Jake is missing his wine cellar and Carlos is missing booze in general. Some people are missing activities that they cannot do on the ship: Kate is missing running outside, as am I (but the gym is better than I expected); Sean is missing surfing; Ted is missing cooking. Dan is missing Sky Sports and OBS-Martin is missing his dogs (I am missing Stanley). Peter is missing Central Park in New York. Matthew is missing the internet, but Ted and I are happy to be away from the relentless coverage of current politics. There is no need to carry money on the ship and rooms are generally unlocked. It will be a shock going back to carrying keys, money, credit cards, etc. – not a way of modern life that I miss.

Pictures of the scientific crew:



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