Tips for going to sea

When you first arrive

When you arrive at the dock with your personal
gear to go aboard the vessel, check in with the Chief Scientist
who will give you your stateroom assignment. Get your gear
settled and stowed away before you go on to explore other
aspects of your new environment. Personal effects are most
easily stowed aboard ship in soft duffel bags (seabags) which
can fit into odd spaces and are easily lashed in place. This
is the time to secure all your gear so that it will stay in
place under sea conditions, not after the rolling and pitching
begins. This is also the time to familiarize yourself with
the station card next to your bunk. This gives the number
of your lifeboat station for boat drills and the place to
which you report for fire and emergency drills. If you have
brought or are responsible for laboratory equipment or other
scientific gear, see that it is aboard and secured. Seek the
advice and help of the SSSG technician if you have any questions.

Your living space

You will be sharing the somewhat confined space of a stateroom
with at least one other, and it is best to get off to a good
start by following these guidelines: Keep your personal things
neat and contained; clean your linen regularly and keep your
bunk made; keep your room clean and in order (cleaning materials
of all kinds are available from the Steward’s Department);
and before inviting a guest to your room, make sure your cabinmate
has no objections. Keeping yourself and your clothing presentable
will help to assure your welcome among your shipmates. The
messdeck is an area where this is particularly important.


Seasickness can sneak up on almost anyone at any time, and
it is not an appropriate subject for humor. If it happens
to you, be reassured that it is usually a short-term illness.
Rest on your bunk, but do not stay down for prolonged periods.
Test your sea legs occasionally, and get out for fresh air
if weather permits. Stay neat and clean and try to keep eating,
if only a little bit. Unsalted, dry crackers, bread or other
plain starches are usually good if all else fails. Seasickness
medication is available from the ship’s stores if you
have not brought your own.

Many persons who have been to sea regularly bring their own
snack foods – particularly those foods which are wrapped individually
and give quick energy. Consult with someone experienced in
your party and seek their recommendation.

Clothes at sea

Clothing at sea should be comfortable and sturdy for work.
In warm climates you will want shorts, and in cold seas be
sure to have your long underwear. Even in the tropics, nights
and some air-conditioned laboratories can be unexpectedly
cold. If you expect to do any work on deck, include your foul-weather
gear (water-proof jacket and pants) and boots. Bring a hat
which will stay on in a breeze. It is required during lifeboat
drills and you will find it useful while working on deck.

Modesty of attire is appropriate aboard ship. Avoid wearing
badly torn apparel, and refrain from wearing abbreviated shorts/tops
and bathing suits except in your cabin or in the area on each
ship designated for sunbathing.

Captain and crew

Most science personnel are at sea for only short periods,
whereas the officers and crew members are aboard ship for
many months at a time. The ship is their home and their quarters
are to be visited by invitation only. This rule must be scrupulously
observed with regard to crew’s quarters, where more people
usually share less space, no matter how much camaraderie may
have grown between science and ship’s people.

Occasional visits to the bridge may be welcomed by the Mates,
but do not overdo it, and remember not to initiate conversations
with the watch-stander on duty at the helm.

Ships’s environment

A ship is a noisy environment. Anything you can do to eliminate
a few decibels will be to everyone’s advantage. Turn
down the volume of your CD player or radio, keep your voice
down in passageways, and close doors quietly. Always fasten
(with at least one latch or “dog”) heavy steel doors.
They can do a lot of damage swinging loose as well as make
a terrible racket. Strong crosswinds can raise havoc. Enter
from the lee side of the ship whenever possible. Keep portholes
and outside doors closed when the air conditioner is operating.

Videos, books, and audio tapes are not the only means of
entertainment on board. There will be interesting people to
talk with and philosophizing is a time-honored pastime. During
informal gatherings, be careful not to disturb others who
may be trying to sleep or study. When someone of the opposite
sex is visiting your stateroom, gossip can be minimized by
keeping the door open.

The close quarters aboard ship demand utmost consideration
of others at all times. When someone is required to work long
or irregular hours, perhaps out of phase with the next person’s
schedule, all the freedom of off-hours ashore cannot be assumed.

Be considerate of the belongings of others. The ships and
most science groups have carefully planned tool kits and stocks
of spares. Most things cannot be replaced at sea. Ask permission
before borrowing tools, spare parts, or personal items from
any source.

After the cruise

Before leaving the ship, be sure to return all books to the
library, empty your desk, locker, and drawers, strip your
bed and return all soiled linen to the linen locker, and leave
the laboratories, your room, and the head (bathroom) in spotless

When your cruise is over, you will have participated in a
whole new aspect of science, met interesting people, made
new friends, and perhaps you will have seen some new places.
You may hope never again to see another ship (not everyone
“takes” to the sea), or you may already be planning
your next cruise. In either case, you will have had a unique