Thursday 3rd June 2010
We arrived in Syrian waters early this morning, calling up the Syrian Navy as required to report our position and destination. The waters in this part of the world are heavily monitored and patrolled by Navy gunboats, but our arrival is expected and as long as we follow the rules – report in and request permission to proceed, then stay at least 6 nmiles offshore until we can turn through 90 degrees and head straight for our port of entry dead ahead – we should have no problems.
Berthing was delayed as the area in which we were all due to moor had not been cleared of local boats. The message was passed out for boats to slow down to delay their arrival while the leaders organised space for the fleet. Eventually we were all berthed, though it was less than perfect as some of the bigger boats had to moor opposite the harbour entrance where it was quite lumpy and exposed.
Checking in went without a hitch for us, though our passports were kept by Immigration and we were issued with cards which acted as shore passes. One boat in our group had a problem though – Frauke on ‘Stranger in the Night’ had completely forgotten a five-year old Israeli stamp in her passport, but it was noticed by the Immigration official and they refused her entry to Syria. She and her husband Heinrich had to leave almost immediately and head back to Cyprus, where they hope the German Embassy will be able to issue her a new passport so that they can rejoin us in Syria.
We settled ourselves in, signed up for the tours we want to do over the next few days, and went for a stroll around the local area. One thing we noticed immediately was the lack of private cars on the road. There were plenty of taxis, and other commercial vehicles like trucks and vans, but very few private cars and those were old and well-used.
This evening we invited the crew of Serafina to supper, suggesting that if they supplied the tuna steaks (which they had recently caught) we would supply the barbecue on which to cook them along with the services of our resident chef, Steve. And thus we passed a very pleasant first evening in Syria with Pete, Mary, Rob, Sarah, Trevor and Lesley.