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You are here: /main/research expeditions/August/September 2007/Tagging sharks

Life on Hi‘ialakai

by Carlie Wiener

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Life On A Ship: A Typical Day on the Hi‘ialakai
For those of you who have never been aboard a large ship before, you may be wondering what it is like. Before I came onboard, I had no idea of what it looked like or how it felt. The ship is very unique, in that its own little community on the ocean. It rolls quite a bit depending on the weather, but after a few days you adjust the sounds and movement. It is really neat to walk outside and see nothing but ocean. The crew that lives on the ship takes shifts manning the bridge and the work; there are always things to be done. There are lots of stairs to climb both inside and on deck; the ship has two main floors on the inside, and several decks outside.

Home sweet home pic- Hi‘ialakai ship, Carlie Wiener.

Climb to Deck
Day two – climbing up onto top deck - There are lots of decks and stairs to climb on the ship, Derek Smith.

Meals are served at specific times, in a buffet style area called the Galley. Surprisingly, there is always fresh food, and lots of fruits and vegetables. A lot of planning goes into ensuring appetizing meals that are always different, the staff is always well fed. There are always snacks available at any time, but the three main meals are at specific times every day. There is a small recreation room in the Galley with board games, cards and a television. A movie is available every night which is announced during dinner time. Every evening at 7:30 p.m. the ship store opens for a half hour. This is a small area where you can purchase pop, candy bars and various sundries. It is a nice way for people to socialize and have some fun after work.

Day five – the dining room or galley- the Galley (where food is served and where we eat), Carlie Wiener.

Day five – the recreation room or galley - the recreation part of the galley where people watch movies and play games, Carlie Wiener.

The rooms are quite small and equipped with bunk beds, a desk and a bathroom. Every room will be shared by two or four people, depending on the individual room set up. Each bed has a little curtain so you can read at night and not disturb others. I like the bunks very much, they are cozy and the rocking of the boat is very calming at night. Each room is equipped with lockers and drawers as well. There is also a dry suit, mask and lifejacket for each person in their room that is always stored there in case of emergencies. The ship has all the amenities of home, there is even a laundry room and an infirmary with an on call doctor if you are not feeling well.

Day one – sleeping quarters - The bunk beds and sleeping area on the ship, Carlie Wiener.

Sick Bay
Day five – sick bay on ship - the ship hospital, Carlie Wiener.

Decompression Chanber
Day five – decompression chamber - the decompression chamber, used if people get bent (sick) from diving, Derek Smith.

Both the dry and wet lab is located on the second floor. The dry lab is where all the computers are located and all the scientists do most of their computer work. The nightly principal investigator meetings are also held here. There is lots of plugs and table space to work or pull out maps. The wet lab is also a well used facility where scientist can store their samples and work to preserve them. The stainless steel counters, storage space and freezer provide an ideal lab for the ship.

Wet Lab
Wet lab - the wet lab where specimen samples are processed and stored, Carlie Wiener.

PI Meeting
Day one – principal investigator meeting in dry lab - the dry lab, where meetings take place and people work on their computers, Carlie Wiener.

On the deck outside, the dive lockers are held. Everyone has their own locker where they store their dive gear. Tanks, life jackets and hard hats are also stored here. Everyday after diving, the gear must be rinsed in a solution as to not spread any invasive species from one place to the next. Every morning prior to leaving the ship the dive master hosts a fifteen minute meeting to review dive safety and the plan for the day. Once that is underway, the crew begins to start up the crane to lift the day boats port side for loading. When this is happening everyone on deck must wear lifejackets and helmets for safety. Each group of scientists is assigned a boat and everyone helps to load the boats with dive equipment, field tools and lunches. The same process occurs at the end of the day, when the boats are lifted back onboard and unloaded.

Day two – checking dive gear - the dive lockers, where all the dive gear is stored and rinsed, Carlie Wiener.

Day five – large buoys - large buoys for the side of the boat, everything is very big on the ship, Carlie Wiener.

Day five – hanging rope on ship - Many ropes used on the ship to pull the day boats, Carlie Wiener.

Day six – launching HI1 - HI1 (one of the two jet boats) craned down into the water for the days dives, Carlie Wiener.

Deck of Hiialakai
Day two – Hiialakai deck - the boats stored on the deck (seen here two zodiacs and a Boston whaler, Carlie Wiener.

The bridge is where the navigation of the ship occurs. There are usually two people who tend to this area and rotate on four hour shifts. Here they track weather patterns, including currents, swell direction and other things that will affect the ships route. The bridge looks very high tech with all sorts of machines and navigational tools. Not only do they use computerized GPS and other navigation systems, but large paper maps as well. The most surprising thing about the bridge is the size of the steering wheel used on the ship. It is so small for such a large ship, really it is quite hilarious. Below the bridge are the main offices where the staff can work and a plaque indentifying the ship. The Hiialakai was originally named the Vindicator and was built in 1984, the name has changed but the plaque stays the same.

Day one – Hi‘ialakai - the bow (front part) of the boat, you can see the bridge in the windows, Derek Smith.

Bridge of Hiialakai
Day three – the bridge - the bridge, where the CO or Captain runs and navigates the ship, Carlie Wiener.

Day three – the bridge boat plaque - the plaque in the main office about the ship, once called the Vindicator, Carlie Wiener.

One of the most unique things about living on a ship is that your backyard is the entire ocean. It is such an exhilarating feeling to step outside and see nothing but blue ocean and sky. A gentle breeze is always present with a rolling sea to watch. This also means that you are exposed to some of the most dramatic night skies, early morning sun rises and gorgeous sunsets in the evening.

Sunset - amazing sunsets can often be seen from the ship deck, Derek Smith.


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