11 February 2010

Student Writeup

As a student watchstander on this cruise, I was required to make a writeup about my experience. Enjoy.

My name is Sam Wilson and I am a recent graduate from UCLA with a degree in Math/Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. In order to postpone any real world obligations while gaining real world experience in my desired field of Oceanography, I jumped at the opportunity to be a CTD Watchstander onboard the R/V Melville during CLIVAR P6, Leg 2. I arrived in Tahiti on New Year’s, 2010, wide-eyed and excited for the adventure that was before me.

After the first few awkward days of adjusting to life at sea and becoming acquainted with the console, I realized both the simplicity and importance of my job. As console operators, we control when the CTD goes into the water, converse with the winch operators regarding package speeds and depths , remotely trip Niskin Bottles on the up-cast of the package, and command samplers during the Rosette Dance. It was soon understood that not only was it important to complete these tasks, we needed to complete these tasks quickly; a five or ten minute loss on each cast could mean entire days when compounded. As a team, the console operators performed admirably and had cast times comparable and even quicker than CLIVAR averages; we destroyed Leg 1 cast times.

I have gained an immense amount of experience and learned many things about myself and the field of observational oceanography. One of the greatest accomplishments I will take away from this cruise is the fact that I spent a full 36 days on a boat. I was able to eat, work, read, write, and play on a boat enough to keep myself entertained, all without getting seasick or going insane. I learned how to sample from Niskin Bottles, interpret water column profiles, and run taglines while deploying and recovering. I learned to use lifejackets to tilt my bunk to prevent rolling with the ship. I learned that research vessels are fully stocked with provisions enough to satiate even my hunger. I was able to make some great friends in the field of Marine Sciences who I will travel around Chile with and keep in contact with later. Most of all, however, I reaffirmed that I love the ocean and have picked the correct field for me.


  1. Glad to hear you're enjoying it Sam, working at sea is (usually) great. Any firm plans where you want to do your grad studies?

    All the best,

    John (from WHOI!)

  2. I am actually waiting on various acceptances right now. I find out in the next two weeks where I will spend the next 5 or so years of my life.

    I infinitely apologize, but which John is this from WHOI?