By Wiley Wolfe
Until recently, I have taken for granted my ability to communicate with people anywhere on the globe. When I returned back to San Diego after ASLO 2019, I took the suggestions of past participants and ramped up my planning and communication with both my collaborators and labmates about my LOREX project. This was via video conference calls, emails, and in-person meetings. I was especially motivated to make progress because two weeks after returning I flew to South Africa to board the RV Thomas G. Thompson for a cruise to Antartica (GO-SHIP Line I06s link and ship picture). I knew communication and planning would be difficult at sea, but I was woefully unprepared for just how hard it would be for me.
For those who have never traveled into the Antarctic Circle, there is no cell service. The ship had internet, most days. 150MB per person per day, with slow upload and download speeds. This makes communication difficult because it eliminates video or audio communication leaving email as the only semi-reliable form of communication. For me, the real issue wasn’t the internet, it was the ocean itself.
While in the Southern Ocean, I discovered I get endlessly, debilitatingly, seasick. We had waves more than 20m tall. That is similar to rolling over a 5 story building with each wave (see video). Sleeping on Argo Floats was the best medicine (see picture). The task that made me feel the most seasick was reading or writing on a computer. If we remember from above, reading and writing emails is the only way I can communicate with my home lab or collaborators. This lead to limited communication coming from me to anyone on land. Luckily, the engineers in my lab continued previous communications with the team I will be collaborating with at Dalhousie. One of the perks of being part of a project that involves many people.
In Short: If you are going to sea before an international collaboration. Plan BEFORE you get on the boat!!