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Cassiopeia - Episode 3/6 - Five days on the Atlantic. Cassiopea tour

We have sailed for 5 days already on the Atlantic Ocean on our way to Carribean and I thought to invite you on a tour aboard our boat, Cassiopea.

Cassiopea is a Beneteau Oceanis 38 sailboat. 

38 representing 38 feet, in the imperial units system, around 3 feets for one metre. So a craft of about 12 m.
The 30-32 feet yachts, with two cabins, a companionway and a bathroom, start to be confortable for sea voyages, more coastal.
The 34-35 feet go over B category and are more suitable for longer distances, away from the shore.
The 38-43 feet yachts offer a generous confort with three double cabins, a big companionway and 1-2 bathrooms.
The ones who exceed 44 feet host four or more cabins or they keep only three generous, overly confortable cabins on “the owner version” worthy of fine hotels.

Coming back to Cassiopea, a craft of  38 feet, I told you previously it’s one of the smallest sailboats who ingaged on the start to cross the Atlantic, ARC2017, where the average between 100 boats is 50 feet.

 I now invite you onboard, if you have the pleasure and curiosity to discover our boat.

When we start to get closer to it on the dock, it looks more bright and more clean than the other boats. The sun didn’t get the chance, in two seasons, to turn the glass fiber into yellow nor to fade the teakwood covering the deck.Liviu, it’s owner, didn’t followed the trend of stainless steel scaffolding or adding other “impovements” that can change the original line of the boat, so commonly seen in other crafts.

For crossing the Atlantic, there where no cutting corners, the boat was entirely equipped with safety systems and devices starting with life rafts and vests with lights, longer halyards, to all sorts of inflatable electronic devices for the less fortunate situations of “men over board”. Everything is brand new, stored in special covers along the deck, giving you a confortable neatly and safety feeling.

The first step you take is on the bathing platform, left closer on the deck for an easier acces. It’s easy to imagine that the same platform, in a hot tropical day, with long, lazy waves will transcend the ocean by few simple steps, into our own infinite pool. Isn’t that as you can even see us swimming around the boat, with 4000 metres beneath us, climbing the stair bath only to take another jump into the ocean? And Blondie Laur, reaching back till the middle of the deck to get full speed and land on his feet in the water? No, I haven’t seen sharks...
In the end, you can take a shower on the deck with cool water or even hot, as you wish, to get rid of the salt from the skin, without any fear that you might damage something.

One more step and you reached the bridge. In the cockpit. Feel free to choose one of the two helms. Would you rather take the one with the speed and wind     parameters? To know how to adjust the sails? To check how much of a wind catcher are you? Or maybe you’d prefer the one with the navigation map and the radar? Who makes you aware if another craft is getting closers than you feel confortable? No worries, any helm you choose, you’ll always know where you’re heading, in front of each of them there is a magnetic compass, the guiding arm of the ships since immemorial times, the brave survivor of all technological progress until today. 

If you’re not on the watch, there is no need to be on the helms. You can sit, lay back and rest  on one of the benches from the cockpit. You can get a tan on the deck, read a book, check your phone or just relax, close your eyes and listen to the sound of the rippling water  caressing the hull.

The central piece of the cockpit is the table. And it looks like you can only put a few glasses and bottles on it ( bottles of water, ofcourse, only water ), but it becomes really usefull when its sides are lifted and becomes truly a saloon table. Inevitably when this is happening, the whole crew gathers around it. Even if it’s for a more elaborated   course, and everybody finds something to help with, like peeling the vegetables, making fish fillets or mixing the salad, or is just bringing or putting the dishes and the cutlery to arrange the table to be ready for serving the meals. And although the chef and his aid knows the dish, for the rest of the crew, lifting the lid from the pot is without any doubt a multiplied surprise for their apetite and expectations. Eating is done in the sound and swing of the waves, keeping an eye of the surroundings to make sure everything is in order, specially those being of watch on that time.

Lowering the sides of the table is the sign that the crew can return to their regular duties. The one guarding the helms, to watch the route, those handling the sails to their specific places, and the ones assigned with washing the dishes to cleaning the galley or just take some rest.

 We’ll descend together in the cabin. The entrance is from the companionway/saloon. The space is resembling with a studio, but smaller and better organised. Underneath the ladder that we sit on with our feet, is located the engine. In the left and right side, the port and the starboard,   are two doors from the two double cabins. The cabins are mostly beds with  small cabinets, with a little space that only allows the door to open. You don’t even need more than that. But why would you leave the deck away from the sun, the stars, the brise or the calming sound of the water? Maybe only to go to sleep.

 Just beside the cabins doors from the stern ( the back of the boat ) there are two more doors - the toilet on starboard ( right side ) and the shower on port (left side). The port consists into a navigation table, this place is reserved for the captain when he decides the route. From here he can check all the premises of the ship from an electric panel. The radio station is on site,in handy / on hand . 

Additionally, for this journey, more devices were fitted : AIS, hidro-charger, solar panels, 2000W inverter to provide 220V power even after we leave the shore. 

Our favourite gadget is a satelite telephone that allow us to be in contact with our families  and with you wherever we are, something unthinkable just a few years ago.

The starboard hosts the kitchen. A generous countertop, with sink and a stove that allows  you to cook even on big waves. The fridge is built in and it’s small but has a freezer and few shelves. Wonderful! The rest of the space is took by shelves, drawers, storing places for the dishes and supplies. And we have lots of supplies! On the countertop, in the kitchen we keep an unexpected device, the expresso machine, initially onboard only for the times whe the sailboat is on shore and hooked to 220V power. But now, with the new invertor, we have expresso anytime onboard! Imagine how you start the watch at 4 am with a hot steaming cup of expresso in your hand?!!

A metalic pole passes just right trough the middle of the companionway, it connects the keel with the base of the mast. A resistance piece that qualifies the craft for a safety journey to cross the ocean. Around the pole we have a table. We never used for it’s purpose, the table from the deck is more suitable in any situations for hosting the crew. But just under it it’s a valuable storage space full of water packs, rusk bags, different types of cans and tins, and ocasionally a bag of “treats”, mostly sweets.

The bench beside the table is left vacant, even tough under it we used to store most of the tinned food we bought. From time to time, a crew member arrives here to take a nap before heading to his cabin. But most of the time, the captain, after he finishes his watch, likes to lay down and rest on the bench. It’s closer to the heart and to the brain of the boat and last but not least, is closer to the deck in case of an emergency situation. 

On the bow ( the front side ) is the last cabin, I share the luxurious studio with Cata on this journey. The size of the bed gives us the impression that we have two single beds insted of a double one. A generous hatch on the ceiling makes our cabin bright and ventilated.

 The supplies are stored all over the boat. If you lift one woden board from the floor you find bottles of water, coke or beer cans. If you open a cabinet you find medicin or biscuits. The benches store tins and canned soup. They are enough for a double estimation of the trip. If we thought about 15-21 days on the ocean, we have supplies for 40 days. Except for Coke. This is what Andreea said. Despite the fact we have 220 liters. She is afraid it’s not enough for 21 days. Today we even made a bet, I said we’ll have at least one bottle or can unoppened when we’ll arrive. What we bet on? On a six pack of Coca Cola, in Carribean, ofcourse!

The tour of our sailboat ends with the safety devices systems.  We have watermaker to turn the salt water into drinking water. We have box tools and spare parts to fix almost everything on the craft. Liviu just fixed today the watermaker. We have life raft for 6 people. We made a grab-bag ( an emergency flotable bag), where we put all of our passports, water bottles, our favourite tin food and proteic bars. We have life vests with lights and Y harnesses to be tied to the boat at all times. Don’t worry about us, everything will be fine, no matter the circumstances. 

Thank you for joining on the tour onboard of Cassiopea. Liviu and Alex did a marvelous job and as you can see we don’t lack anything.

We’re sailing on the Atlantic for 5 days and the only thing missing is you guys....

Good watch ahead to all!

Ovidiu Drugan/Cassiopeia


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