By LT Brian Kennedy - NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
September 13, 2015
Ahh...the feeling I get when the ship starts to move away from the pier for the first time at the start of a cruise is so nice. I can just feel the tension leaving my body and the farther away we get from land, the better I feel. Watching the land drop below the horizon is just a wonderful feeling.
The weeks before the cruise are always incredibly busy and stressful for the expedition coordinator. This cruise, we also had a delayed start due to mechanical issues, with no exact timeline for completion in sight. Even if everything is going very well, I still wake up routinely in the middle of the night to add things to my to-do list and send emails at 2 am to make sure I don’t forget in the morning.
However, all of that changes once the ship casts off and heads to sea. I don’t have to worry about all the “what ifs” or the possibilities of what I have forgotten to do. I can focus all my attention at the operations at hand. Once we are underway, I don’t have to worry about what I may or may not have forgotten because it doesn’t matter. If we realize that I have missed some detail, there is not much that can be done other than to figure out some work around, so it is not worth stressing about.
The first three to seven days of the cruise are still very busy for me, but far less stressful. I spend most of the day introducing our new scientists to how we operate with telepresence and running around the ship to make sure all the different teams and departments on the ship are on the same page.
That sounds easy enough, but things are always changing so it not uncommon that just a couple minutes after I have confirmed that everyone knows what we are doing that something will change and the plan needs to be reworked. I then start the notification process all over again, but this time there are at least two plans going around the ship. I have to talk to everyone and make sure they understand that what I told them an hour ago is no longer true and explain the new plan. It seems to take at least twice as long to get a new plan going because I have to convince everyone that the old plan is no longer in effect.
By the middle of the cruise, assuming the weather is holding and all the equipment is working, I actually might have time to watch the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive and remember how cool what we do is. However, if the weather has picked up or we are having to work around equipment failures, it may not be until we are back on shore and I get to watch the highlight video before I have any idea what we saw with the ROV.