32 48.3 N 35 01.8 E
14th - 17th June
Our overnight sail to Israel was fairly incident free apart from a 'rogue' Swedish' boat that overtook us very close bye with out any regard to the 'Rules of the Road'. Eventually Jacky had to resort to shining a torch and calling on the radio to remind them that they were the give way vessel! (An apology was forth-coming the following day!) The guard boats from the Israeli navy were very vigilant and all the yachts were checked through an entry channel at 15 miles off the coast we were then stopped and passports were checked at 5 miles off the coast. On arrival in the harbour the boat was briefly searched and then we had to take our ship's papers to the immigration office to receive our shore passes. The Carmel Yacht Club of Haifa were responsible for hosting our visit and they had a wonderful welcoming committee set up under awnings with tee shirts, base-ball caps, chocolates and chilled water waiting for us on the quay! The mooring arrangements were very complex and we ended up being the 14th boat rafted out from the quay in a herringbone fashion between boats on pontoons using lazy lines. Our boats were alongside each other but bow to stern alternately and some were able to pull in close to a boat on a pontoon so that is how we are able to get off onto dry land. We have also rigged a pulley system with a dinghy to go from our stern to the pontoon near us.
We had a very nice reception and supper later the fist night which included two dance demonstrations one from a group of teenage girls and then after the Flag ceremony a group of school children (boys and girls). This was followed by a cold buffet and BBQ all organized by the club.
The following day we took a coach tour to the Jordan valley and visited the sea of Galilee where we
went to the site of the Sermon on the Mount, commemorated by the Church of the Beatitudes and a Monastery set in beautiful landscaped gardens about 100 metres above the sea shore. We then walked down to the church of St. Peter which is nestled on the sea shore built around a rocky mount reputed to be the place that Jesus shared a meal of fish with some of his disciples; near bye were the ruins of another church built on the site where it is reputed that Jesus, after his resurrection appeared to Peter and called upon him to be the 'Rock' of the Christian faith. Then it a drive between the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee and the infamous Golan Heights, with a lovely lunch en-route. En route to Nazareth we stopped at a lovely site on the banks of the River Jordan where Christians can be baptized (It is not the actual place that John baptized Jesus, this is much further south near to the Dead sea , but it has been designated as a safe place for this ceremony to take place). In Nazareth we visited the church built over the site where it is believed that Mary (mother of Jesus) was informed of the 'immaculate conception'. The country side was dotted with villages and Kibbutz with much evidence of irrigation and plantations of banana, dates, mango and other cash crops.
In the evening we were guests of a lovely Jewish family (club members) who entertained us in their home and then took us for a drive around Haifa and in particular to the top of the district known as Carmel (where they lived) with stunning views over the bay to the port and the steep hillsides around. There is a beautifully landscaped and terraced park known as Baha'i Gardens which can be seen from several miles out to sea – at night it is expertly lit up; it starts at the top of Mount Carmel and ends at the seashore in the centre of the city. Our host family have two daughters both very sporty (Mum was a PE teacher so we got on like a house on fire). The younger girl is currently in Kiel at the world cup 470 dinghy championships (she is ranked 7th this year and hopes to compete in the 2012 Olympics). The elder girl was an international gymnast but is now serving her National Service in the army!
Today we leave to sail overnight to Ashkelon which is south of Tel Aviv.