Sailing on sail boat SS Aliza from Eilat Via Suez Canal to Haifa August 2003 מאילת לחיפה על העליזה
The log on my sail aboard Sail Boat “Aliza”, from Eilat, Israel On the Red Sea to Haifa, Israel on the Mediterranean sea
Steve wrote the sailing log.
(The big Guy near me in the pictures. Actually All men crew members were much taller than me…).
Eilat is a fun place, kind of like the Miami Beach of Israel. Neroli and her friend, Mark, met us there, flying down from Tel Aviv. Ephraim’s family was waiting for him, which was a happy reunion and Moshe left to meet his friend Beverly from New York who was in Israel for her daughter’s wedding. After the wedding, Beverly joined us on the boat for the 10 days we were in Eilat. Ephraim and I went on the Imodium AD diet for our Eilat stay as the result of the chicken sandwich from Sharm El Sheik. This is the Middle Eastern version of Montezuma’s revenge – we call it Saddam’s revenge. I mostly walked around the beaches, visited some shopping stalls (didn’t buy much) tried to find internet access (not a lot available) and made sure I knew where the closest W.C. was at all times. Like I said Eilat is a resort area so with all the beaches and the constantly warm weather, there are a lot of pretty young girls in teenie weenie bikinis and young muscular guys walking around – nice sightseeing whether you’re male or female. I can understand why such a young, small country as Israel has had two Miss Universe.
Moshe and Ephraim had various radio and television interviews as well as newspaper coverage of their arrival. They had decorated the boat with hundreds of those little, colorful, plastic triangular flags as well as a couple hundred plastic Israeli flags and the flags of all the countries they had visited were run up the mast. One day a cable T.V. crew came to the boat and filmed us and interviewed Moshe and Ephraim
I spent a sometime at the “American Bistro” in Eilat.
This is a family kind of restaurant/bar modeled after TGI Friday’s. Thanks to my “Saddam’s Revenge” the first thing I blurted out when I entered the place the first time was “where’s the bathroom?” The general manager “Zach” and I became friends and he made sure I got a 25% discount and treated me to dinner my last night there. The people of Israel that I met seem to absolutely love Americans. Mark and Neroli chided me for wanting to go to an “American” style place the first night there, with “why would you want to go there? You’ll get plenty of that when you get back to the states. Let’s go get some of this great Middle Eastern food.” So we walked about a half a mile to the beach on the other side of the bridge and I had “kebab”. Mark and Neroli had pizza and salad – go figure. Anyway, by the time I left Eilat, I had made several friends at the American Bistro (where by the way, they serve wonderful Middle Eastern food in addition to western style). One of the things I really appreciated at the bistro was the huge American flag they had hanging behind the bar. You don’t see that many after you leave Hawaii and it just made me feel good – it’s a beautiful flag.
We left Eilat about July 23rd with a crew of Moshe, Ephraim, my old buddy Haim, Uzi and his son Yoni (Hebrew for Jonathan or Yohanatan in the Hebrew language), a young guy named Michael and me. Mark and Neroli decided to take a car to Sharm El Sheik and do some diving (Mark is a diving instructor).
It took us about four days to go back down the Gulf of Aden, round the Suez peninsula and sail back up the Red Sea to the Suez Canal. The trip was pretty uneventful and the weather was favorable. When we got to the canal, it took us two days to get through. The thing that surprised me was that it is not a “lock and dam” like I expected, just a long, long canal, cut through from Port Said, Egypt on the Mediterranean, to the Red Sea. Haim and I stood watches together for this whole leg. All along the mainland side of Egypt, there were fortifications and soldiers patrolling the bank. On the peninsula side, it was mostly desolate with a few wrecked buildings from earlier wars and at one point we watched a dredge chucking mud from the bottom of the canal up onto the peninsula.
After exiting the canal at Port Said, it was about a day and a half to Haifa, Israel and the end of Aliza’s circumnavigation journey.
We arrived in Haifa on about the 29th of July and put in at the new Haifa marina. Haifa is a really pretty city and the original name, which has been shortened to Haifa, means “beautiful harbor” in Hebrew and it is. Haifa is built at the base and on one end of Mt. Carmel. Coming into the bay, you get an overview of the suburbs and round a point which sticks out into the bay before you see the city. The architecture of Haifa is of course modern mixed with ancient. And it is very striking. The gold dome of the B’hai Temple and the grounds are a pretty dominant feature nestled into the tiered city and are extremely well cared for and very beautiful. The gardens are gorgeous and upkeep is so meticulous the grass looks as though it is manicured with a nail clipper. The dome is the final resting place of the founder of B’hai, a man named Ali. B’hai is based on a principle of all inclusive love and peace and I believe encompasses most if not all religions. They believe in six prophets, Moses, Buddha, Elijah, Jesus, Mohammed and Ali. (O.K., I didn’t take notes so anyone who knows better is welcome to correct me and I will make sure the correction is distributed).
Haifa is mostly an industrial city. It was really confusing for me to drive around in. Although many of the road signs are in Hebrew, Arabic and English, there are many that are not – only Hebrew and Arabic.
It’s really thought provoking being in a country where everyone looks pretty much the same as they do in the U.S., but not only could I not understand the language, I couldn’t even recognize the characters the language is written in. I have a little more empathy for people who come to the U.S. from foreign lands and have to tackle the job of communication and just getting around. If I can ever get back to Israel, I’d sure like to know some Hebrew. Although most people understand English and a large percentage speak English fluently, it is not their mother tongue. So in conversations with a group, it would not be unusual for the others to revert to Hebrew without even realizing it.
Ephraim took me on a “cook’s tour” of Haifa, Akko, where Napoleon was turned back, and Rosh Ha-Niqra on the Lebanese border.
I will be just giving some highlights of my stay in Israel. Mostly because this is one of the most amazing countries in the world in terms of history and religious significance. The information, the spectacle and the emotions packed into this small country are so overwhelming a tourist brochure could be written every 100 feet and I would still be writing next October.
I moved off the boat on Friday the 5th of September. Ephraim drove me to Tel-Aviv and we visited his uncle Israel who is like a Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra in Israel. Israel was one of the top performers in Israel for many years and is still very active in television and with personal appearances. He signed one of his CD’s for me. Most of the songs are old standards by Bennett and Sinatra with some original compositions by Israel. All the songs are in Hebrew which of course had to be re-written and arranged by Israel. We met my friend Rafi, from Rishon Le-Zion, a suburb of Tel-Aviv at Israel’s house and I went to Rafi’s that night and hung out with Rafi for the weekend. Saturday morning, September 6th we went back up to the yacht club in Haifa and celebrated Moshe’s September 3rd birthday. This is where “Aliza” was originally launched in 1994. There was more food than could be eaten and about 30 – 40 people were able to come.
Rafi’s daughter, Jasmine, is the accountant at one of the major five star hotels, Mercure, in Bat Yam, another city adjacent to Tel-Aviv and she was kind enough to provide me with a beautiful corner suite on the 14th floor overlooking the Mediterranean at very low off season rates for a couple of weeks. It’s really nice to have good friends.
I took several tours from out of Tel-Aviv while I was there. I went to the ruins of Caesarea, which was founded by the Phoenicians but reached its glory under Herod the Great when he developed the city to replace the port cities of Jaffa and Dor. Also, near Caesarea, you can see the ruins of the Roman aqueducts which were constructed to bring fresh water to Caesarea from Mt. Carmel, twelve miles away. Pontius Pilate lived in Caesarea. It was from here that he set out, on the feast of Passover, to Jerusalem to condemn Jesus to the cross. Caesarea was conquered by Mohammed in 640 CE. (Common Era)
I re-visited Rosh Ha-Niqra where I rode the cable car to the grottos, natural caves worn into the rock by the wave action of the Mediterranean over the eons. And where the Lebanese border begins.
I saw Capernaum and Simon Peter’s house where Jesus stayed during his visits and the Synagogue where, as a devout Jew, he worshiped; the Mount from which he delivered the Beatitudes and fed the multitudes; Nazareth, his home town (should us Christians be called “homey” in Nazareth?).
I took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and walked in the river Jordan.
I was at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. I soaked in the mineral hot tubs, covered myself head to toe with the mineral rich black mud and floated on top of the sea.
I was at Masada, the mountain fortress, where 967 men, women and children held off 15,000 invading Roman legions for months and then when defeat was inevitable, demonstrated their contempt of death by committing suicide rather than be raped, tortured and enslaved by the Romans.
Haim, my friend from Jerusalem, picked me up at the hotel when my stay was over and took me to his house for a week to stay with he and his college-age daughter Hades.
Haim took me to the Lutheran Church of the Ascension; Dominus Flevit (where Jesus wept); the church where Mary was entombed (can’t remember the name); Gethsemane; the Mount of Olives; the tomb of Absalom, son of King David; the West Wall of the 2nd Temple (also known as the Wailing Wall); the bazaar in the old city of Jerusalem; the Via Dolorosa (where Jesus carried the cross); the Mount of Olives; the Church of the Holy Sepulchure where I touched the stone on Calvary where Jesus’ cross stood, the stone slab where his body was anointed with oil and was in the tomb of Jesus. Haim could be a tour guide and like I said, it’s good to have good friends.
This is the last update. Anyway, until I can again get my own boat again or sign up for another voyage.
Many people have asked me, “what are you going to do now that you have lived your dream?” Keep dreaming and keep living I guess. Besides, I don’t think I really have lived my dream. I helped someone else live theirs. It was Moshe’s dream to sail around the world and Ephraim’s determination to help him do it. My dream was to sail about the world, not necessarily around it. What this voyage gave was invaluable experience in deep water cruising. I love it and am thankful to have had the opportunity to join Ephraim and Moshe in their historic trip. They like many, many of the people I met along the way were the most important part of the trip. I am overwhelmed at the goodness and kindness of people all over the world.
Many thanks to all of you who enjoyed my ramblings, sometimes commented, and always encouraged.