Several reasonably well-founded preconceived notions of life aboard a ship involve dark cramped crowded living spaces, spare amenities, and crude approximations of the comforts of civilization. Fortunately, the designers of the very modern and almost brand new Sikuliaq made a great effort to throw these notions out the window.
As any of the crew or science party veterans with several sea voyages under their belts will tell you, being assigned living quarters above the waterline is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Those of us for whom this is the first prolonged experience at sea are going to come back spoiled by a spacious, carpeted, climate controlled cabin with a view of the water (in just about every case).
Although the rooms are provisioned very comfortably (pillows and linens provided; a full laundry on board means you are responsible for maintaining your own), it’s actually rare that the opportunity to linger there arises. Because of the watchstanding schedule, politeness dictates that the room be available (and dark and quiet) for whichever of the two occupants is trying to rest up in time for their next watch. Depending on the synchronization of schedules between any given pair of roommates, this can range from trivial to “some consideration required”. Good manners breed good science.
Each pair of rooms shares a “head,” with a toilet and shower cubicle aligned perpendicular to the ship’s direction of travel. This enclosed space is one of the worst for having the sensory context required to anticipate and compensate for rolling. We’ve been told of unlucky sailors caroming through unsuspecting shower curtains, and shattered porcelain of hapless, non-weight-bearing sinks. On this boat, the sinks are out in the staterooms and so far no one has admitted to taking down a curtain.
Even with a cooperative roommate, you’re not guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep unless you’ve been careful to secure the entire room for sea. A stray quarter in a desk drawer; a slightly loose cabinet latch; anything that can rock or swing or slide is an invitation for irritation. After chasing all of these down, it’s a simple matter to settle in for a couple of hours before your next watch …