Jounieh, Lebanon to Haifa, Israel.....via Cyprus?!
Monday 14th June 2010
Another day of preparing for the next passage, this time to Haifa in Israel. There were some complications this time, so briefings were quite lengthy. Firstly, the Lebanese do not allow boats to sail directly to Israel, and so all our checking out documents have to show that we are heading for Cyprus. Furthermore, all boat crew had to be briefed on what to say when questioned over the radio by the Lebanese Navy regarding their destination. In order to look as though we are sailing to Cyprus, a waypoint has been set 25 nmiles offshore directly out from the Lebanese coast where, if heading for Cyprus we would turn right. Instead, we will turn left. And as we will be a long way (13 nmiles!) out of Lebanese territorial waters, they will just have to lump it. We hope.
The second complication is the Israeli Navy. They are very protective of their waters, possibly even more so since the incident with the aid ships to Gaza just two weeks ago, and so they have set us a passage plan which involves entering Israeli waters through a narrow ‘gateway’ between two waypoints. We are under instructions NOT to cut any corners as Israeli gunboats will be there to meet each boat and very possibly board them. Oh, and there is also the possibility of the GPS going down as the Israeli military jam the signals!
So we were perhaps a little more nervous about this passage than any of the previous ones. As group leaders we still had to maintain our 4-hourly radio checks on the rest of the group, as well as answering calls from whichever Navy wanted us to identify ourselves for the umpteenth time – and remember to tell them the correct destination! We left Jounieh in the late afternoon for the 85-95 nmile trip that should see us entering Israeli waters through the ‘gateway’ sometime tomorrow morning. We are due to arrive at Carmel Yacht Club between 12:30 and 13:00.