ADVENTURES OF A
On Wednesday, I am setting sail from Cape Town to the Southern Ocean, as part of the US GO-SHIP program. We will be taking measurements of parameters such as temperature, salinity, velocity, carbon, oxygen, and trace gases. This section gets repeated every 10 years to determine changes over time. The cruise is 38 days, making it my longest cruise so far. I’m super excited to cross the Southern Ocean and see Antarctica (we aren’t going on land, sadly).
Today we were onboard the Thomas Thompson to get a tour and do some training. This was my first time aboard a US research vessel. The previous cruises I joined were all on South African vessels. It honestly felt like going from a beat up 20 year old honda civic to a brand new tesla. For instance, our CTD operations in the past were run off a laptop, with no altimeter to tell us the CTD was close to the bottom. We also did not have read outs of things like wire tension so we just did our best. Today, they showed us 12 monitors of read outs for the CTD. It is a 36 bottle rosette, compared to the 12 bottle ones I am used to. There was plenty of lab space for everyone, multiple people stopped what they were doing to teach of about their work, the ship has a gym, we were each given a login for wifi while at sea… none of these things had happened on my previous cruises. They also fed us mussels, and had ice cream and candy and chips readily available. I knew it would be different, but I’m in awe. It is amazing what decades of adequate resources towards science can do.
This cruise will also be different for me for a few other reasons. One is that I am a student, and this is not my data. Of course I care about the data, but I think it will be much less stressful since my personal research does not depend on this. My journal from the last cruise includes entries from several days that say “this was the most stressful day of my life”. So I’m hoping to avoid that. I am also going to sea “as a man” for the first time. This is somewhat strange to me on many levels. Although I pass as a man on a daily basis for things like ordering food and using the bathroom, I’ve never had anyone close to me think that I was a cis man. I am very out as non binary in my daily life. I am called “she” at least once a day, and probably more like 10-20 times (note: my preferred pronouns are he/him). I use the women’s restroom at work. I am also very openly bisexual. These past 2 days, I have consistently been called “he”. I am sharing a room with a man. Although the chief scientist knows I am trans, no one else does. And I’d guess people think I’m straight? I feel a little like I am tricking people, and also a little paranoid for them to somehow figure it out. I think most of that is internalized, though.
I plan to continue blogging about science and about my experiences passing as a man! I will update when the internet is good.