Find out what three of our Fellows have packed for their quarantine and ship time…
Kelsey Archer Barnhill
I always feel the pressure when packing for a cruise more so than packing for a holiday. Usually when you are travelling somewhere and forget to pack something like extra socks it’s not the end of the world as you can always stop in a shop somewhere and pick some up. However, you don’t have that luxury on a research cruise, therefore making a packing list is essential. I normally start my list a few days before I start packing to make sure I have enough time to think of extra items and run to all the stores I need for last-minute purchases. I also have ‘essentials’ and ‘if room’ sections of the list. One item this time around that didn’t make the cut was a new pair of sneakers as I didn’t have room to pack them or the time to head to a store and try any on.
I’ve sailed on three expeditions before, all on the vessel E/V Nautilus with the Ocean Exploration Trust. I found it easier to pack for those expeditions as there was an on-board uniform so I knew I just needed to pack khaki shorts and trousers as my tops would be provided. I was also sailing in temperate waters off the west coast of the United States so I knew long pants, jackets and beanies would be essential for keeping warm. This time around there is no uniform to adhere to and the weather offshore will be warmer than what I am used to. This made it hard to pack as I couldn’t simply grab my offshore favourites and throw them in a bag.
When thinking up my clothing packing list I start at the bottom and work my way up. I first decide which shoes and socks I will pack, then underwear and bottoms, finishing up with tops and sweaters. Thankfully there are laundry facilities on board so there’s no need to pack 6 weeks’ worth of socks and underwear! When packing my clothing, I made sure to only pack items I’m not too attached to. You never know what type of grease, mud, or slime will end up on you at the end of a day!
While most of my packed clothing consists of shorts and t-shirts, I’ve also packed some warmer clothes. Despite sailing in tropical waters off the coast of Cabo Verde, being offshore can cause the temperature on the ship to be much cooler than on land. Therefore, even though it’s the summer, I’ve packed some jeans and sweaters as well, especially for the evenings and early mornings. I made sure one of my sweaters has the University of Edinburgh logo on it so I can wear it for pictures used in University-related outreach.
When you’re on a, expedition you have to expect the unexpected at any time of the day or night. A fire drill or exciting ROV discovery could have you out on deck during your sleeping hours. Therefore, it is important to pack pyjamas you are comfortable walking around the ship in. After packing all the clothing needed for the ship I thought about whether I wanted to bring anything different for quarantine period. In addition to a pair of sweatpants for lounging around the hotel room, I also packed clothes for doing workouts. Believe it or not, my athletic wear will be made use of not just in quarantine but during the cruise as well as there is a small gym on the ship.
It was a bit tricky figuring out how many toiletries I needed to pack for this length of time. When I travel on holiday I use mini reusable bottles for my shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, but I’ll certainly need more than travel size bottles for this trip! A must-have for any cruise is sunscreen to protect your skin from the days spent out on deck. I also made sure to pack plenty of earplugs as there are all sorts of noises on the ship which can be hard to drown out when trying to sleep. The engine, the winch that raises and lowers the ROV, the waves, and sounds of fellow cruise personnel can all keep me up at night, so earplugs are on my ‘must-have’ list. I also bring more sea sickness tablets then I could ever need as I don’t want to get nervous about my stock running low. I take sea sickness tablets for the first few days at sea, after which I’ll start to wean myself off the pills and switch to ginger chews instead.
During transits, bad weather, and the current quarantine I wanted to make sure I had things to keep myself entertained. In addition to downloading some shows on Netflix, I packed six books for the cruise, including three from the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I’m taking a gamble starting a new novel series on a cruise, but I’m hopeful I’ll like the books as they come highly recommended from a friend. Five of the six books are epically thick so I shouldn’t run out of reading materials any time soon!
And finally, no cruise bag is complete without snacks! Normally I would have stuffed more in, but my bag was already overweight so I stuck to the tried and true necessities: Twix, Haribo, and Crunchie.
As this is my first time joining a research cruise for so many days (as well as my first time quarantining for 10 days in a hotel room), I was a bit nervous about my packing list. So, I turned to more experienced voices and collected tips and advice. Some people told me that an extension cord would be useful, so I brought one. Others told me that some office materials, such as pens, rulers, and tags are always useful, so I packed all those random pieces I could find. My electronic devices include, of course, my laptop (well, I never really go anywhere without my laptop) and a camera borrowed from my dad. For clothes, I packed light and I (hope to) have a least one piece of clothing for every type of weather we’ll experience. I also brought everyday essentials, such as my ID documents, sunscreen and face masks. For personal hygiene items, I have everything that I usually need… times 3, just in case. I also sneaked some UNO cards into my backpack – who knows, they might be something fun to have. To keep me entertained during quarantine, apart from an endless library in my e-book device, I also brought two books: one in Italian that I am currently reading to make sure I don’t forget my language skills, and a José Saramago book called The Cave since I thought it was a good title for my isolation period. And finally, snacks… I have a lot of snacks! My snacks include fruit that will last me for the whole hotel quarantine, and some dry fruits, protein bars and chocolate. Overall, I feel like I packed S.M.A.R.T., and so far, during quarantine, my packing has proved so. But I have a feeling, once iMirabilis2 sets sail, I will be wishing to have packed something I didn’t and will probably be wondering why I brought a certain item with me.
Daniëlle de Jonge
Personally, I try to travel as light as possible – there is often last-minute equipment that has to be tossed into my personal suitcase! However, there’s always room for a picture of my husband, a card game, and some of my favourite teas to relax with after a busy day of work.
Working with three landers requires shipping quite a bit of equipment. Not only do the large landers with lots of big floats need to be shipped, but also all spare parts, tools, lab equipment, sample processing kits, and chemicals. This can be quite challenging, but luckily our group has a very skilled lander technician to help us out with logistics. All our equipment is stored in a large warehouse, where we then carefully pack and document the location and contents of all boxes. The boxes go onto pallets, which are transferred to two shipping containers with the lander frames, taking into account weight distribution. In terms of paperwork, the containers need to be certified for international shipping regularly and we have to prepare documents for customs clearance. Even though we work with an international shipping company to help us navigate this, customs is always a bit nervewracking (for me at least): you don’t want the equipment to arrive late! Generally, all equipment is shipped back to our University after a cruise, but in special cases a container can be stored in port or is shipped directly to the next port for mobilisation of an upcoming cruise.