Coral Banks
Oct. 21, 2002

By: Rachel McEvers, Project Oceanica

You might be wondering what a typical day at sea is like. Stacey Harter and Rachel McEvers are both "watch standers" on the mission. Their shifts, as well as those of the other watch standers, consist of two four-hour shifts with eight hours in between. Their shifts are from 4:00 am to 8:00 am and 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. After awhile, with such a strange schedule, the days all become meshed together and you really don't have a concept of time.

Fig. (A grumpy scientist protests work before the sun comes up.)

A typical day starts at 3:45 am when they are awakened by a member of the crew. During their watch they make sure the data is being received properly from the multi-beam and side-scan sonar devices. There are numerous variables on the three computer screens that must be recorded and maintained. The hydrographer is usually in the sonar lab working with the watch standers to keep things running smoothly. They are also responsible for conducting a CTD cast once per shift. The CTD device measures conductivity, temperature and depth of the water column.

Fig. (The sonar team watching their monitors intently (pictured right). Last night they found an uncharted 240 ft. sunken vessel!)

CTD casts are necessary since temperature affects the speed of the sound waves that are being sent by the sonar device. This information will be used later when all the data gathered on the mission is processed. The watch standers are in constant contact with the bridge, which is the place where the captain and crew pilot the ship. They're supposed to use proper radio code words like "roger" and "copy" but sometimes they forget (oops)!

Fig. (The CTD samples the water to correct for sound velocity every 4hours, or 20 miles.)

Stacey and Rachel eat breakfast during their morning shift and dinner during their evening shift (eating is a BIG part of being at sea!). Hunger is never a problem! There's a huge buffet for every meal in addition to a freezer full of ice cream and a pantry with cookies, chips and tons of yummy junk food. After their morning shift they have eight hours of free time. They usually spend it reading, napping, watching TV and movies, playing video games and basking in the sun. Other members of the mission also try their hand at surface fishing (trolling). So far they've caught dolphin fish and wahoo, which were cooked up by the wonderful ship's cook! There have been a couple really good practical jokes played on some of the scientists. Everyone has seen all kinds of interesting things while on board, including huge pods of spotted dolphin, flying fish, loggerhead turtles and unbelievable sunrises and sunsets.

Fig. (While the rest of the crew maps the seafloor certain members are called upon to catch the daily meal. Project Oceanica's Dewey Golub pictured right.)


Rolando Herrera (pictured left) is the cook on the M/V Liberty Star. The cook is definitely one of the most important people on the ship. Prior to joining the crew on the M/V Liberty Star, Rolando worked for 24 years in the Navy as a cook and 11 years in the Merchant Marine as a steward. In the Navy, Rolando went to school for cooking and kitchen management. He has been with the M/V Liberty Star for 6 years now. Besides cooking, Rolando creates menus and does all the grocery shopping, as well as helping keep the ship clean. The thing he likes best about his job is the people. He says the crew on this ship is wonderful and they are a fun bunch of guys. The only thing he doesn't like is when they have rough seas. When I asked Rolando what kind of fish he would be he answered immediately, redfish.


Ph. 843-953-7263
Project Oceanica
Lowcountry Hall of Science and Math
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29424
Fax 843-953-7850