I haven't updated for a while, cause I was super busy trying to get ready. It is not easy in so many ways. I am also spreading myself way too thin trying to organize my own program while helping out my colleagues.
The ship was never meant to have a large science group like ours and even the small amounts of space they have have not been properly maintained. Science instruments the ship nominally has are mostly in a very bad condition. Again, cause there is nobody to take care of it and somehow when people do use them they don't clean up after themselves, don't drain salty water off to prevent rusting and so on.
The crew for the most part are extremely accommodating, I have a lot of THANK YOUs to give and need to seriously stock up on thank you bottles and thank you cigarette packs ;). But unfortunately sometimes there is a limit on what they can do... The ship will not magically become bigger and the hold is not going to magically get an inside door.
The best word to describe the whole expedition is "opportunistic". I have to say this word worries me. It might result in good science, but most likely it will result in a lot of lost opportunities. Something we could have done along the way, but did not have enough preparation/planning to make it happen. Normally such cruises have a few years to prepare, this one was put together under an extremely tight schedule. Oh well...
NOTE TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Please don't be worried about safety, I am talking about lost science opportunities. We will be keeping as safe as we can in the Southern Ocean and I do have trust in the crew/operations people.
Another point I wanted to make is a language/cultural barrier. I tried to be really helpful to many-many people, but I am just one and somehow a lot of times I'm getting ignored by some important people, who should have listened. One thing I'm trying to explain over and over again is a cultural difference. In Russian culture we all grew up to answer NO to a question we don't quite understand/know how to answer. So my fellow colleagues and upper management have been getting a lot of unreasonable NOs. I can see how frustrating it can be, I just wish some of them would have taken my advise earlier. Knowing how to ask "but why" is a skill, which I have been offering to share for a few months now. However, I am a single person running my own science project, I can not solve too many issues at once. I could have solved a lot more early on. Another oh well...
What I am trying to say I guess is this. On a Russian ship sometimes NO does mean NO, but sometimes NO can be negotiated to a YES under specific conditions. We can not risk the safety of people, but we are willingly going to the Southern Ocean to do science, so might as well try to negotiate getting the largest return possible. I am working really hard to make it happen.
On that note, I have to stop, cause we are leaving tomorrow and there's too many things to do.
Thanks for reading!