Rob and Jacky Black
Fri 25 Jun 2010 10:32
31 40.3 N 34 33.3 E
18th - 21st June Ashkelon, Israel
We left Haifa with reports over the radio of strong winds off the coast so had two reefs in the main ready for a good sail we hoped!
We had to head out from the Israeli coast to keep off the shore by a minimum of 8 miles for the passage to Ashkelon - we enjoyed some good wind for
the first few miles but soon we had to turn the engine on again and shake out the reef.
The sail south was uneventful the wind being not much more than force 2 until closing the coast when it blew up to a force 5 and we had a lovely romp in to the marina.
Mooring here is between metal pylons which have rings near the top - it was fairly tricky backing into a gap that was just six inches bigger than our widest point with
a cross wind and only Rob fending off while I steered! (Thank heavens for the bow-thruster which helped to keep the boat square to the slot). We did no damage but several
other boats had scratches and bent stanchions!
The marina here has reasonable facilities including a washing machine so we spent time catching up on loads of washing and other mundane housekeeping tasks while most
of the rally participants went on a trip to Masada and the Dead Sea. There were a few bars and restaurants around the marina so we were able to check out the latest football
scores from the world cup as well as enjoy some local beer with friends. In addition there was a 'free' concert along the promenade so we walked to hear this but only stayed
for a bit as by the time we got there the pop music session was on and wasn't quite to our liking. The staff in the office here were very helpful and we were able to use the space
to sit in the air-conditioning and get onto the internet. We felt rested after out three nights and ready for the expedition to Egypt. At the last minute our friends on Halcyon Days
decided not to make the journey so we gave their crew -  Ross and Aileen a lift. This meant we had 4 onboard for the 138 mile passage so some moving of gear from the after -cabin
was required. There were quite a few boats that stayed in Ashkelon so when we left we had only 35 boats for the next passage.
The passage down to Port Said was the longest yet so it was nice to have two people on each watch and we certainly needed the extra eyes as when we arrived off Port Said we encountered
many obstructions and un recognizable light configurations from umpteen boats. We had to motor for much of the journey but did get a few hours with full sails and the genoa poled out
which gave us good speeds for a time. Our instructions were to meet outside the port by 0530 and then the boats would process into the start of the Suez Canal in a line with all the flags hoisted
and proceed to the naval base for mooring. Unfortunately this plan was 'scuppered' in part as the wind rose to 30 knots some boats were struggling to arrive on time and others had been caught with
too much sail up. We also had to wait for a convoy of 5 or 6 large ships to enter the canal. In the end we made the procession with out the flags and eventually all moored up on the wall on the
Arsenal Basin in Port Said - most boats being in and tied up by 1000. We immediately had to report through immigration and then we were able to get to bed.