Correct pics, week 6 EMYR

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 13 Jun 2008 10:24

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 11am 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 welcoming.

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 1am, watching the version of Exodus, starring Paul Newman. It seemed very fitting to be watching this film while we were in Israel.

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 slavery.

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-heeled  platform 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 5am on Thursday but were awakened before 4am, with instructions broadcast over the VHF, instructing us to collect our passports at 4am. 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 4.30am 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 6.30am. Played hell with the very thought of sleeping, particularly as I didn’t get to bed till 3.15am 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.







ABOVE:_ Welcoming water cannon

                 Dead sea Dick

                 Lucy doesnt miss out on sleep


Lots of love,

Dick and Irene,





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