When we left Haifa, shortly before 18.30 on
Saturday evening, the sea was big and uncomfortable. We raised the sails before
we left harbour and sailed until 23.15 when it became necessary to switch on the
engine. As is usual, the wind reduced during the night and the sea became much
calmer and we reached the port of
Ashkelon about to a wonderful welcome.
As we approached the breakwater,
we were greeted by a ship fitted with water-cannon. Dick sounded the foghorn in
recognition and the ship with the water cannon responded. While we tied up
alongside the pontoon, musicians walked to our boat, playing their musical
instruments. Going ashore and waiting for our passports to be returned, glasses
of beer and flowers were thrust into our hands. A small, light plane flew
overhead, with the legend “Welcome”, trailing behind, in huge Hebrew letters.
Small boats circled the marina, the occupants cheering their welcome. Wow! This
is our second port in
Israel and like
Haifa, the people are so very
Today, Sunday, we are chilling
out, trying to recharge our depleted batteries. Tonight we will eat a barbecue
on board the catamaran, have a reasonably early night and be ready to climb on
board the coaches at 7.30 Monday morning.
The early night didn’t happen as
we sat up till nearly , watching the
version of Exodus, starring Paul Newman. It seemed very fitting to be watching
this film while we were in
The early morning did happen and
we again boarded the coaches for our excursion through the
Negev desert, to Masada, the
mountain-top fortress and palace of
King Herod the Great, reached by
cable car. A few of the group walked up the snake-like path, to the eastern
entrance, a 45 minute work-out in relentless sunshine. This site is famous for
the extremist Jewish Zealots who, after a siege of 2 years, rather than
surrender, killed their families, then each other, rather than be taken into
After lunch, we drove to the
Dead Sea and floated in the water. It was difficult to
swim because of the very high mineral content in the water. Children scooped up
buckets full of salt pellets. Huge lumps of salt stuck out of the water like
ice-bergs. The smell of sulphur pervaded the air which was hot and almost
without movement. The temperature registered 41 degrees centigrade. We were told
that, because we were 400metres below sea level and the air was denser, we could
stay in the sun all day long, without sun-screen, and wouldn’t tan. I don’t
think that any of our group were inclined to take that as a fact.
Tuesday is another free day and
we were able to walk round from the marina to the beach, top up provisions,
ready for the next leg of our journey and generally have a relaxing day. Tuesday
evening was party time with another cocktail party.
The setting was actually in the
shipyard and the flags of all the nations taking part in this rally, were
standing proud beneath the huge hoist, in the lifting bay. The food was
excellent and varied and the beer and wine flowed. As the evening progressed, 3
exotic, beautiful women appeared within our midst, dancing and gyrating in their
high-heeledplatform shoes and
sparkly, almost non-existent costumes, sporting a magnificent array of
multi-coloured ostrich feathers, attached to the back of each dancer. They
eventually moved onto the stage with a male following reminiscent of the pied
piper. Another very successful evening enhanced by the fact that we did not have
to leave the marina at 5am in the morning. A decision had been made by the
organizers that due to seas, too large for the smaller boats in the fleet, the
departure would be delayed by 24 hours.
Although the delay added more
pressure to complete the rest of the rally in the time scheduled, it was very
welcome as most of the participants were already wilting from the long days, as
well as the long nights.
We planned to leave at on Thursday but were awakened before
, with instructions broadcast over
the VHF, instructing us to collect our passports at . Each person, on each boat, had to be present, when
the passports were collected. There was no point in delay, so we motored out of
the marina and motor-sailed for the next 12 hours.
Eventually, we had enough wind,
from the right direction, to sail. We turned off the engines and for just over 7
hours, sailed towards Port Said,
before it became necessary to switch on the engines again.
Bit of a cock-up at
Port Said. Some boats arrived well
before the scheduled time of 5.30am.We got there at and were by no means the first to arrive, by
several hours, so we joined the others, at anchor, just outside the
Suez canal At 5.30 we were told that we would not
commence the approach to cross the canal till . Played hell with the very thought of sleeping,
particularly as I didn’t get to bed till after my last watch.
All tied up in the Arsenal basin
at 8am, we had a free day ahead.
The motto for this rally seems to
be “Sleep is not compulsory”. At least, that is what the rally leader keeps
saying to us.