Friday, June 18, 2010


Passage to Israel June 15
It was another night of motor sailing to our next port, Haifa. Completely windless, and the sea was butter flat. We took a course to stay 6 miles off the coast as required by security. Boats without navigational lights kept us on high alerts.

The next morning, en route to Haifa, we finally had some fun sailing closed haul between 5 to 7 knots, with all three sails. How nice to be sailing without engine! Given steady wind and relatively flat sea, the Nauticat pretty well sails on its own, without the autopilot. Once we entered Israel territorial water, we were under the watchful eyes of the navy warship, pilot boats, and helicopter. A navy ship circled each yacht, identified the yacht from the EMYR list, and call up the yacht by radio for further confirmation of crew details. When this is completed each yacht is then permitted to change course to enter Israel waters. When we were 2 miles off Haifa harbour, we were further intercepted by another patrol boat, with police and immigration authorities checking our identities. We were instructed to pass over our passports by dropping them into a fishing net held up by the Israel boat. After checking, our passports were returned to us in the same fashion. It was certainly quite an experience!

The facility at Haifa for EMYR yachts is not a marina, but a private yacht club. Club members moved their boats elsewhere for 4 days to make room for our fleet of 70 yachts. This was very gracious of them, but space was extremely tight, maneuvering our large boat in the confined waterway, waiting for space to be available with little steerage, was a hairy experience. Eventually we tied up without incidents, but I think a bow thruster would be nice to have!

Once settled, the Haifa Camel Yacht Club gave us a warm welcome with refreshments, souvenir shirts and hat and later in the evening, a welcome party of dinner, music and dance.

Haifa June 16-17

We took a day tour to visit Northern Israel. The trip took us to the Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee, and Nazareth. Haifa is Israel’s third largest city, with a large commercial port, oil refinery, and a strong economy. Many highway projects were evident – contracted to Chinese construction firms. At the marina there’s always a cooling breeze, but once entering the arid valley regions the temperature rose to 30C. The much contested Golan Heights seems to be peaceful now, but its strategic position and water resource mean that there will not be a simple solution. Water from the mountain collects into the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a fresh water lake. This is largest source of fresh water in the region. Here Jesus performed the miracle of calming the sea, and also instructed St. Peter to take the helm of the church. On this day the water was completely calm, and we dipped our toes in the water of this historical lake. We then toured Nazareth, which is actually a sprawling metropolis, not a historical village with donkeys walking on stone-paved roads that one might imagine.

In the evening we had a different type of reception. A number of Israeli families hosted the EMYR visitors. Crews from 2-3 boats were grouped to a family. The idea is so that international visitors like us will gain a better understanding of life in Israel, and presumably will then be more sympathetic to their view point. Our host happened to be the past commodore of the Camel yacht club, who’s a retired journalist, very widely travelled and knowledgeable. There was surprisingly little discussions of politics. They indicated that they’ve been hosting EMYR for many years now, still no peace in sight…may be in another few years.
More pictures can be seen at:

1 comment:

  1. Hi there from Steve & to read the stories! EMYR has turned out to be a very excellent choice of travel for you two!Keeps you safer I think!..and the parties sound great! Hugs to you both!! Stay SAFE!