28 May 2022
First let’s get the boring stuff out of the way for all the non-nautical types out there: what is an OS (Ordinary Seaman)? Basically it’s the entry level position in the deck department with the next level being AB (Able Seaman), then maybe you upgrade to an officer position like 3rd mate. And if I’m a good little sailor I may even work my way up to a captain. Still, I’m crew and regardless of my rank or anyone else’s, we all play a role in keeping this machine working for the sake of all the science. With that, let’s move on to what the slice of life that I’ve carved out on this metal fortress is like for me.
Now if you’re thinking that being a sailor means all kinds of sea escapades and misadventures, you’d only be half right. Think of life here as more of a job in a building. Except the building is moving all the time which means everything is moving all the time, including me. So for starters, you have to learn how to walk again in this new ever moving world, which I’ve chosen to live in…on purpose. Lucky for me it’s been on the tamer spectrum of things. Despite my never ending dance with the ship, I’m tasked with some of the more mundane things that one doesn’t realize has to get done. Even in this floating community of ours someone has to take the garbage out. So first task of the day includes a small journey throughout the ship on the hunt for all the rubbish. It may sound like a trashy task but it is in fact a very pleasant way to start my day nice and slow. Depending on my mood I might be doing my trash run strolling around to music or going for some more mental head space and good vibes, courtesy good mornings, and smiling faces from some crew and scientists. I also have my own personally designated area to sweep and mop. Tack on wiping door knobs and other surfaces in the morning and evening from all the grubby hands touching them all day, and that encompasses the boring cleaning stuff.
Image 1: Gomez dressed for rust busting, ready to wake up the entire ocean with his needle gunning skills. Photo by Nick Benz.
Image 2: Gomez in his element working on one of his rust busting canvases. Photo by Joe Martino.
Now the meat of this job: keeping this bad boy floating. Throughout the day I’m tasked with various objectives and by far the most common one is rust busting. I hope everyone on the ship thinks sleep is for the dead cause when you put a needle gun in my hand I’m absolutely going to town spreading the joys of rust busting in the form of loud vibrations heard almost everywhere. All I know is that this rust committed the sin of existing and I need to pass judgment upon it. Some needle gunning and wire wheeling later and this once sorry excuse of a surface is nice and steely smooth. The next big part of this job is painting. After some rough and loud work, I paint the surface with a few coats to finish out the job nice and easy. It’s real satisfying once it’s all done as the fruits of my labor are tangible in the new rust free surface. I do other things for variety too. Sometimes they take pity on my soul and let me build things with wood. Doing that brings a smile to my face since I’m a hobbyist wood worker and like slapping wood together. They may not be the prettiest but these junkyard creations will do the job.
There’s plenty more that I do as an OS but at least I can give a tiny taste of what it’s like for me here. And while I still may be new, I definitely feel at home here out at sea. Good work and good people make this job worth doing for me. I’ll finish my rotation soon and take time off but you can be sure I’ll be coming back for more.
Image 3: Gomez in the winch room ready to perfect his winch operating skills, a task he recently started doing on the ship. Photo by Feivel Woetzel.