12/13/2020 Written by Korey Verhein of the WHOI  - ROV Jason Team

I’ve been sailing on research cruises since 2008 as an operator of National Deep Submergence Facility vehicles such as Alvin, Sentry, and most recently the ROV Jason.  The job is challenging and satisfying, but there are some drawbacks.  For this job we give up a lot of time away from home, friends, and family to support science operations.  We live on a ship for up to two months at sea, sometimes over holidays.

christmas tree toy
Lego Christmas Tree. Photo credit: Korey Verhein


One thing I learned early on is to bring a few things with you to keep your spirits up, and if you can, share the enjoyment with other shipmates.  A small present every day is helpful.  Since this trip leads up to Christmas, the most obvious thing to bring was an advent calendar.

This year I brought a Pop advent calendar which has a tiny toy character from Harry Potter every day.  I started opening it up in the main lab alone and leaving it out for other shipmates to see.  It progressed over a few days to me opening that day’s toy with a few people to the majority of people in the lab anticipating that day’s toy and asking when I was going to open it up.

advent calendar
Harry Potter Advent Calendar. Photo credit: Korey Verhein


It has been a good way to get to know other shipmates and bring a little joy during downtimes in the midst of daily operations.  Every day I am hoping to find my favorite character Luna.  10 days left!