David's Diary: Saturday, December 1, 2001

Across the Gulf du Lion

Lunch Outside In December
Lunch Outside In December

The start of December dawned bright and calm. It is warm enough, that we enjoy lunch in the cockpit for only the third time on Dragonsinger. For almost a week, Yacht Services has been working on a leak in the forward cabin. Every day we hope to move on, but a leak in the bow is a serious problem in a sailboat, so we wait to make sure that it is fixed.

We have enjoyed our stay in Port St. Louis, but we are ready to move on. In our original plans, we had expected to be in Spain by now. What we had forgotten was how difficult and time consuming it is to commission a new boat. Like any major project, it always takes more time and resources than expected.

Leaving Port Napoleon
Leaving Port Napoleon

After lunch we determine that the leak is fixed. One final look at the weather forecast and we decide to make an overnight passage across the Gulf du Lion. The Gulf is one of the most feared bodies of water in the Mediterranean, but we think that tonight will be the right time to cross the Gulf. The winds are light and the moon is bright.

We leave just as the sun is setting. The canal out of Port Napoleon is cut out of the sand deposited over centuries by the Rhone River. As we leave, we can see fisherman a few boatlenghts away standing up to their knees. In the distance are the developments around the Bay of Fos, an extension of the Port of Marseille, which combined make them the third largest port in Europe and the largest on the Mediterranean.

Our passage will take at least sixteen hours and we plan to split the watches. The sun will set around 1700 and rise about 0730 and our watches look like:

  • 1600 - 2000 (4 hours): Karalee and Jocelyn
  • 2000 - 2300 (3 hours): David and Kevin
  • 2300 - 0200 (3 hours): Karalee and Jocelyn
  • 0200 - 0500 (3 hours): David and Kevin
  • 0500 - 0800 (3 hours): Karalee and Jocelyn
  • 0800 - 1200 (4 hours): David and Kevin

Port Vendres
Port Vendres

The hours ticked by and we all felt tired in the middle of the night. But our passage was uneventful. The wind was light, but we were able to sail the final few hours. At 2000, Allen fell asleep in the aft cabin. All through the night, we shared the aft cabin bed with him as each watch turned in for a few hours sleep.

In the morning, Port Vendres was visible in the distance. As the sun rose, we made our approach and by 0900 we had tied up to the visitors dock. Our first passage was over, but it was something special. Whether it was the moon peaking through the clouds, the few ships we encountered, the lights that marked our route, the French Mediterranean cities that we could see in the distance, or the warm feeling of having another human being on watch with you at three in the morning, we will always remember our first overnight passage on Dragonsinger.

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