DrGw390 – departing Cape Town

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April 15, 2022 by Dr. G

(*If you missed my first post on my JOIDES Resolution adventure, I encourage you to start with DrGw390 – Week of quarantine. All posts will be tagged with #DrGw390.)

Finally! What an incredible feeling to be able to open the door of your hotel room and to be able to walk through it! But such a simple task was more of a challenge than it sounds. I was completely disoriented. I have stayed in countless hotels in numerous locations and have a really good sense of direction – but I was lost trying to find my way to the elevator! Interestingly, I wasn’t the only one, as others expressed a similar sense of feeling “lost” trying to get out of the hotel. Eventually, we all made it to the lobby and boarded multiple buses to head to the dock. You would have thought we were a group of tourists on the bus, pointing at everything outside the window and asking each other so many questions about the geology of Table Mountain. Our bus driver was generous in responding to our many inquiries, and before we knew it, we were at the customs site to be processed before the final bus trip to our ship.

Below is the photo every person that sails on JOIDES Resolution has a goal of attaining – and I got it with no one else in the image!

Despite escaping the hotel, there was no escaping the COVID protocols that were still in place for us. We boarded in small groups and had an initial tour with these groups. Then we immediately shifted to our work hours. After boarding and having lunch with our assigned small groups, the night shift (those working 12 midnight to 12 noon) went right to bed, and the day shift (12 noon to 12 midnight) started our work. We had more tours, and more training – lots of training! Then, it was my time to get set up in the room I’m sharing with the other Education/Outreach Officer on this expedition, and time for some clean clothes!

I’m actually thankful for all the Zoom meetings we had during our week in the hotel. Not only did it help combat the sense of isolation, but it gave us a chance to know each other (at least in the science party) and enjoy some laughs and smiles as an entire group. Now we are split between shifts, and it will not be until our COVID protocols on the ship end that we’ll be able to come back together again as one group of scientists exchanging our findings, meals, and much laughter with visible smiles.

Each of us is allowed to have access to the ship’s wi-fi network on one personal device for email and doing our research. We can sign up for a 15-minute time slot to Zoom home once a week, and we can purchase calling cards on the ship to phone home. Fortunately, I have an amazing piece of artwork drawn by my neighbors that is keeping me company!

One of my main duties on JOIDES Resolution (JR) is to give ship-to-shore Zoom tours for classrooms and community groups. These typically don’t start until after we leave port, but a classroom from the high school of our Expedition Project Manager Emily Estes wanted to connect early, so we did! We spent an hour going around parts of the ship to explain scientific ocean drilling (what it is, how we do it, why it matters) and to answer questions from the students. It was so much fun, I’m looking forward to doing more!

Our day of departure arrived! After two more PCR tests that we received on the dock, we were ready to depart. But first, we had a special delivery as part of our safety gear to stow in our rooms.

Cape Town was beautiful from the water! But we lost sight of land quickly, after a few engineering tests.

After less than a full day on the water, I was already exhausted and ready for sleep. I’ve been able to keep my balance on the ship and haven’t gotten seasick, but wow, I’ve found a few new muscles in my body that I never had to activate on land – it’s a whole new way to stand/move/sleep on a moving ship!

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