David's Diary: Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Halloween In Marseille, France
We left Port du Frioul early, but we did not head straight for Marseille. We had a number of boat systems that we needed to calibrate and test. We headed off to the south away from Marseille where we calibrated the autopilot compass and the knotmeter. It is amazing how modern day boat electronics can calibrate themselves. For example, to calibrate the autopilot compass we had to put the autopilot into calibration mode and then slowly turn the boat through two complete circles. The autopilot automatically told us when it was calibrated and indicated that it had found four degrees of variation (variation is the amount an onboard compass is different from actual magnetic North).
We also did a test sail. Our previous two passages either had wind directly in the direction we were trying to go or no wind at all. This was the first time that we had Dragonsinger's full sail plan working. The wind picked up and we also got to test furling the sails. Allen was quite uncomfortable with the boat heeling over, but we hope that over time he will get used to it.
After our sail we headed towards Marseille. We passed Chateau d'If, which lies just outside Port du Frioul. The fortified Chateau is conspicuous and has been used as a prison for centuries. Today it is a tourist attraction with day trippers making a visit from the Marseille Vieux Port.
Marseille Vieux Port
We had been looking forward to our visit to Marseille. While getting the boat ready we had only had time for one quick trip to the city. As France's third largest city we were certain that there was much to see and do. We were also looking forward to the shops in Marseille so that we could outfit Dragonsinger with the numerous little things that turn a boat into a home.
We stayed in the old port (i.e., Vieux Port) which used to be the commercial port of Marseille. During the 19th century the port became too small to accommodate all of the merchant ships and a commercial port was built to the north. Marseille is the second-largest port in France. The Vieux Port is now used for fishboats, ferries, and boats like ours. For us, it is great to be right in the middle of the city while surrounded by thousands of boats.
Halloween On Dragonsinger
Today is Halloween. While ghosts and goblins are the norm back in Vancouver, they are not as common here in France. We do notice a lot of Halloween window displays, but we do not see any children trick or treating. We made our own Halloween event on Dragonsinger.
We decorate the boat in a Halloween theme. Karalee and Jocelyn make a spooky chamber in the aft cabin. One-by-one, Kevin, Allen, and I make our way into the werewolf's lair. We search for candy, hear spooky noises, and reach out the window to touch the werewolf's eyeball. Our Halloween night ends secure in a new port knowing that new adventures await us tomorrow.