17th February 2020: 24 hours with Quart 0-4

by Kelly-Anne Lawler

Midnight (00:00)

My shift is starting so I am dressed to impress! Thermal layers, working clothes, steel capped boots, a hard hat and finally the many pairs of gloves I packed (wool, waterproof and leather). In all I have three layers under my wet weather gear and I wish I had more! Our first task is to slice the calypso core into 1.5 m sections – the shift before us (Quart 8-12) have started on this task so we have only five or six sections to cut. We work on the side of the ship, staying as sheltered as possible but the occasional large wave comes over the side and drenches us all. Once we have sliced the core and stored it away we work undercover. Some of us split the cores or wrap and pack the archives away. The others are scanning, photographing and describing what we see in the cores so we get our first idea of what the sediment is like. We work hard for four our hour shift and, while it is chilly, it is easy to forget how cold we are as we chat and listen to some music on our small speaker as we work.


Our shift is over and our replacements from Quart 4-8 arrive. We head to the small dining room to eat our breakfast (or is it lunch?) and to warm up. We have tea and juice, salami, boiled eggs, cheese, and delicious crusty baguettes. Once we have eaten all we can, we head to bed for some well-earned sleep.


Lunch is early for our small group as our next shift starts at the traditional lunch hour of 12:00. We have a delicious meal – Cassolette de Fruits de Mer (a small portion of seafood), Mille Feuilles de Boeuf compotes d’Oignons et Foie Gras (foie gras, beef, bread and onions), Pommes Duchesse (very deliciously prepared potatoes), Plateau de Fromage (we can make a selection from the cheese board) and Mousse au Chocolat Maison (freshly made chocolate mousse). I also have a can of cola to help me wake up! At 11:40 we leave to get dressed into our work gear to start our shift.


The previous groups have made a lot of progress. We do not all need to be outside working so Quart 0-4 split up with some of us doing computer work - e.g. digitising the core descriptions or editing photographs. There are still some cores left to scan so some of us work out on deck, wrapping the cores and packing them away as they come off the core scanner. I am outside today where it is chilly, but nice – especially when the sun peeks out from behind a cloud and the water and sky are a thousand shades of blue and grey. The air is fresh and clean and energises me after a restless morning of sleep.


Our shift is over and it is our leisure time. First up – a hot shower and then, snacking, napping, using the gym or doing some scientific reading are all on the cards. We do as we please until dinner – tonight we will eat at 7pm with Quart 8-12. Quart 4-8 eat dinner when they finish their shift at 8pm.


Dinner is every bit as good as lunch and is followed, of course, by the traditional cheeseboard as well as a fruit basket for dessert. We are transiting to our next station tonight meaning most of us will not be on shift so we gather in the bar for card games, darts and table football – with varying degrees of skill and success. I head to bed to watch a television show on my laptop and to have a good sleep in before the multicore arrives on deck the morning at 9am.

Quart 0-4 line-up (Photo by Naoufel)