ALIA Expedition
Report on the quarters onboard the R/V Kilo Moana

The cabins that onboard the R/V Kilo Moana (KM) are actually quite spacious for a research vessel; this is mostly because this KM was custom built for this purpose. The cabins each house two people, and share a toilet and shower with the adjacent cabin.  The cabins each have a sink, bunk beds, lockers, and a desk.  Most cabins have TV screen which had access to all the closed circuit cameras (which are placed in critical areas around the ship) and some data from the ship’s computer.  In addition, there are telephones in each cabin that can reach any other phone on the ship.  Each cabin also has a large window with a good view outside.  From mine, there is view of the fantail and all the activity that goes on there.

Because shifts don’t coincide necessarily with daylight, there are curtains on the windows and bunks, which enable the light level in the room to be controlled completely.  This is essential for shipboard life; it allows the room to be completely dark in the middle of the day so that the tired individual whose shift just ended can get some sleep.  The lighting system is also very good and each bunk has an individual light behind the curtain.

Unfortunately, the curtains cannot block out the sound of a ship at sea.  On a ship there is activity going on 24 hours a day.  There are the sounds of normal ship operation, such as the hydraulics for the rudder, which can be heard when the winch is not running, but unfortunately the winch is required for almost every operation on the fantail.  To put it simply, a ship is not a quiet place to be, every system onboard makes noise, some more than others, and because this is a ship, they are all located in close proximity to the cabins.       

All the doors in the cabin, and everywhere on the ship, can be locked in either the open or closed position.  This prevents accidents caused by doors swinging with the rocking motion of the ship.  Other types of accidents can only be prevented by quick learning and mental conditioning.  The main source of anxiety comes from the small spacing between the lower bunk and the top, or the top bunk and the roof.  Those people (myself included) that tend to sit up violently when they wake up will find the close proximity of the ceiling to be quite painful.  Restraint is quickly learned, and I already find myself remembering about the height restriction as I wake up.

Space is a limited commodity aboard a ship, and designers work hard to make what space there is usable.  To that end, there are drawers and shelves wherever space allows.  And, of course there are two life vests and immersion suits located in the corner of the cabin, easily accessible if the need arises.  Overall the quarters much more roomy than I expected, despite the low clearance between bunks, they should prove ideal.


Blake English onboard the R/V Kilo Moana.
04 April, 2005


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