Games at Sea (Part 2): Tape Bucket

Tape Bucket© is a complex and constantly evolving high-intensity sport. On first inspection Tape Bucket© may seem like a simple game developed to fill spare time; however, as you delve deeper the finer details and intricacy of the sport, it begins to reveal itself. Tape Bucket© is a three-player game in which one player attempts to throw a ball of tape into a bucket at a distance of about 3m (~10 ft), whilst the other two players wait behind the bucket looking to catch any rebounds.


The wet lab, where we process our dredged rocks, turns into a Tape Bucket court sometimes. Charlie is throwing the ball and Dominik and Ben are hoping for a rebound.

A point is awarded for a successfully thrown ‘bucket’ or a one-handed catch if the tape ball rebounds from the rim of the bucket. Additionally two points are awarded if a trick shot is successfully sunk (a trick shot is one that bounces off a wall, say). Each player gets three shots before rotating to the next player, and the first to score three points wins the round. Tradition dictates that 12 rounds are played per day, and scores are recorded on a paper towel with a sharpie.


Ben and Charlie attempting a one-handed catch on the rebound ball. Can you see the ball in this photo?


Ben attempting a “trick shot” using the fume hood. Please refrain from using the hood for any other sport or game that involves something heavier than tape balls!


That was one great trick shot, Ben!

A complete summary of the rules and regulations of Tape Bucket© is far too extensive to be shared on this blog post, however the founding fathers of the sport intend to compile such a document for public consumption before the end of this cruise.

Tape Bucket© was developed by Charlie, Ben and Dominik one day when standing in the ship’s wet lab with a rare moment of free time in between dredges. Ben had been throwing a ball of used masking tape from hand to hand, when it was suggested that he attempt to throw the tape ball into a bucket on the other side of the room. Needless to say the first shot was missed, but in that moment our passion for Tape Bucket© had been ignited. In the following 2-3 minutes a highly complex series of rules were developed and Tape Bucket© as we know it today was born.

We think that Tape Bucket© has an extremely bright future: we feel that the game has global appeal, building on core elements from many other highly popular sports. We are looking to build the sport as a brand and are looking to emulate the business model of the Premier League over the next two to three days. We have already been in touch with major manufactures of high-end sporting goods worldwide, looking for multi-million pound (dollar) merchandising and sponsorship deals, but have yet to receive a reply.


Ahhh! I almost had it!

We see Tape Bucket© as the peoples’ sport: all you need to play is a ball of tape and a bucket. As such we will be leaving behind a tome of instructions on the R/V Sally Ride, so that future research cruises can get inspired and play whilst at sea. We hope that Tape Bucket© is a game played on research cruises for generations to come.


Charlie’s victorious joy for a perfect shot and Ben’s equally joyful admiration.


Just as American football can trace its origins to a wild game played at Rugby School in England, so tape bucket in the years to come will preserve its origin in April 2018 on board RV Sally Ride. The traditional white buckets will still be made to the same design and the ball of rolled up tape used in next year’s world championships will be the same originally used in the first game ever. The only changes since those days have been in the rules. Creation of new and more complicated rules is an essential part of the game. Famous players such as Charles Dunham and Benjamin Wernette, who claim to have played the very first game, say that the original rules were very simple indeed and were scribbled on a single sheet of scrap paper. Nowadays the rules fill volumes and need to be renegotiated each year. In Poland the third original player, Dominik Zawadzki, maintains a national team that has kept close to the original rules and has won the world title for the last ten years. Which way will the game evolve by the turn of the century?