Thursday, 24 April 2014

Safety at Sea

Eleanor, Lola, Ben and Neela, in the main lab wearing safety gear.
Research ships like the RRS James Cook are generally quite safe. However, being at sea is not the same as being on land. If someone gets sick or gets hurt, there isn't a hospital nearby. So, we take safety very seriously on board the ship. Whenever we go out on the working deck, hard-hats and steel-toed boots are required. The same goes for in port. When Lola, Ben, Neela and I had to go get our port passes from the police station in Trinidad, we dressed up in our safety gear.

Gathered on the deck near the lifeboat, taking the register.
We also practice what to do in an emergency. On the first day of sailing, we had a safety drill. This is similar to a fire drill at school. Here, the ship's bell rang the general alarm: 7 short blasts followed by one long ring of the bell. This signal meant that we had to gather or "muster" near the back deck and wait for someone to tell us what to do. For the drill, and for any real alarm, we wear our boots, a jumper, a woolly hat and bring our life vest. From there, we went to our assigned lifeboats, and put on our life vests. You can see us discussing safety in the picture.

Lola, Neela and Eleanor in the life boat.
Since Neela, Lola and I hadn't sailed on the RRS Cook before, we also got to try out the life boats. These are the bright orange boats that you can see on each side of the ship. The inside of the lifeboats were toasty warm, and it would be a snug fit with lots of people in them. Each of the two lifeboats on the RRS Cook can carry 54
passengers. There are also 6 extra life rafts. Each of them can carry 20 passengers.  We didn't try the life rafts.

If you remember the Titanic, one of the problems they had was that
there wasn't enough space in the lifeboats for everyone. Since we
currently only have 35 people on board, and two lifeboats with 54
spaces, and 6 life rafts with 20 spaces, there is plenty of space for
everyone. Also, since we are near Venezuela at 13 deg N, 64 deg W,
the water is quite warm (28 deg C) and there are no icebergs around.

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