All Over Now
Sunday 27th June
Well the rally hasn’t quite finished, but England lost to Germany in their World Cup game today and worse still we have a few German crews on the rally. The only recent consolation has been discussing with the Aussies the merits of their first ever woman Prime Minister. The fact that she is also married to a hairdresser has only deepened their pain.
We motored through the night, but it was a long and uncomfortable one for most of the crew and their plight was not helped by a very large swell that was running and with no wind to steady the yacht, we rolled badly for several hours.
At 5.00 am we had our first visit from the Israeli navy which was a little exciting for me alone in the cockpit. I saw the gunboat approaching at speed by the light of the full moon, but as they neared Serafina, they turned on a hugely powerful searchlight which bathed us in bright light but equally blinded me and ruined my night sight, which presumably is part of the idea. After circling twice they called on channel 16 to know the name of the boat and the EMYR rally number. I gave them this info and they thanked me and welcomed us to Israel and hoped we had an enjoyable stay! They then roared off at full speed leaving us rolling in their wake. But they had not gone far when the radio came to life again and a different voice called Serafina by name and demanded we alter course immediately for a more northerly heading to avoid getting within 9 miles of a sensitive gas installation. This was a case of mistaken identity by the shore radar station as we were nowhere near where they thought, but I acknowledged the instruction and they were satisfied. At this point the gunboat returned and again circled us twice but this time said nothing. Eventually they asked me to tell me who we were and when I repeated the information they did not reply, but headed off again. One hour later, in full daylight a second armed patrol vessel approached and circled us, but this time seemed satisfied to just read the information off the back of the boat!
As we approached Herliya black clouds formed and as we came in and docked around 9.00 am, we did so in pouring rain which was as much a surprise to the locals as us. We were as usual here, met on the pontoon by customs and immigration etc. They wanted to see all the crew on deck but I explained that Sarah was not well enough to do this. I explained that she had seasickness and a poorly stomach as we did not want to have issues with the health department! They came aboard and conducted a brief search, apologising to Sarah as she lay there. Next we were required to all take our passports to the Immigration office to have visas stamped and inserted and again I explained about the problem with Sarah. The officer went off and told the three of us to come to the office as instructed and he would see if they would send someone to identify Sarah to save her coming too. In the event, we were halfway to the office when we met a senior officer coming the other way. He turned out to be the head of immigration here and was personally coming to check Sarah out of sympathy for her plight. He was very cheerful and apologised to Sarah for having to come aboard to see her and overall the entire team here including customs were extremely helpful and pleasant. Some of the other boats had sniffer dogs put on board, but this was more about training the dogs than a genuine search for contraband.
First impressions of this marina are very favourable and we are already reconsidering our original decision to head south back to Ashkelon Marina in a few days time and base our travelling to Jordon from here instead.
Lesley, despite still feeling pretty rough, washed Serafina’s decks and between us we sorted out all the deck gear and put up the flags etc. Meagan from ‘Kiwi Volant’ is a nurse and she popped round to see Sarah and administer some pills to help her situation which had all the signs of being full blown dysentery. It transpired that a good many crews have been suffering the same or similar symptoms and the general feeling is that I will succumb at some stage, but hopefully not when we start our overland travel to Jordan and Jerusalem. Trevor and Lesley have also been given various medications and hopefully they will avoid the temptation to start eating and drinking again too soon, but it is not easy as there is a real end of term spirit developing here.