David's Diary: Thursday, December 6, 2001

Exploring Port Vendres, France

Port Vendres Harbour
Port Vendres Harbour

Port Vendres is beside Cape Bear, an often stormy cape that is referred to in the French weather service when seas are "rough". Located just North of the French-Spanish border, the area has jostled back and forth between France and Spain for centuries. The port is one of the few deep water ports in the French Mediterranean. Today it is both an active fishing harbour and a major center for tourism.

Port Vendres Entrance
Port Vendres Entrance

One thing we noticed was the hills around the harbour. We continue to miss the mountains in Vancouver and while in Port St. Louis du Rhone preparing the boat there was nothing but flat land to be seen. It is not since our visit to Marseille and Cassis that we've seen hills this high next to the Mediterranean.

The entrance to the harbour is well protected, but because the strongest winds prevail from the NW, it is common for huge seas to build outside the harbour entrance. Most of these are blocked, but a significant swell sometimes makes life on Dragonsinger interesting as we rock back and forth at the dock.

Working Harbour
Working Harbour

During one of our first few walks in Port Vendres, we discovered the commercial work yard. There is a large travel lift that is used to pull fish boats out of the water. We watched as a 100 foot fishing boat was being refitted and marveled at how Kevin and Allen were dwarfed by the rudder and prop. The refitting was done by hand and we stopped to see the caulking of the wooden boat being removed by hand, while others hammered in wooden pegs, painted the decks, and got the boat ready for another season of fishing.

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