Finally, we’re ready to set sail from Riga. Once the harbor is at our backs, our nautical initiation continues with practical information about everday life on board a ship. We learn what to do when it’s our watch. For my part, I’m assigned to Watch 2, together with the entire ENET team and our guest scientists. In Watch 2, we’re on duty between 4.00 and 8.00 am – yikes! – and between 4.00 and 8.00 pm. During our watch, it’s our job to steer the ship, keep lookout for other ships and land, correct the position, monitor and log the weather, and check the entire ship for fire or water ingress – and repeat each task hourly …
In other words, we are kept busy. If the additional diesel engine is in operation, we also check it and oil it hourly. When the watch is over, it’s time for happy hour. As fun as that sounds, it actually means that we have to clean the ship!
Furthermore, each watch is responsible for a specific set of sails – in our case, the mainsail and the topsail. This entails raising and lowering the sail whenever the situation demands. The whole watch team then has to assemble at predetermined places and follow the instructions of the watch leader: “Raise the peak halyard!”, “Slack the guys!”
And so we sail through the Baltic Sea, past over 2,000 mostly uninhabited small islands. This gives me my first opportunity to chat with the scientists on board. Despite our different specialist disciplines, we quickly find common areas of interest. For example, I have fascinating discussions with a professor for big data from Osnabrück and with a professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) who specializes in superconductivity and refrigeration technology. Amid the gentle rocking of the waves, I even get to float a few vague project ideas.