Thursday, June 19, 2008

Leaving the Rally and off to Cyprus!

Mosque and fishing boats, Port Said; Felucca sailing on the Nile; Rupe on a camel at the Pyramids; buying limes in Port Said.

Rumpus has returned to Israel after a visit to Egypt full of dust and antiquity. Last night was the final rally dinner and party - great food and dancing, yet again, and saying good bye to wonderful friends that we have met on this Eastern Med Yacht Rally.

Today we spent a day in Jerusalem seeing the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa, Temple Mount, the Western Wall - places just reeking with spiritual feeling and beauty. More on this later! Still catching up I'm afraid, we've been too busy sailing.

We saw the pyramids after arriving safely in Egypt with a big albacore tuna caught off the Gaza strip en route.
We left Israel in some of the largest seas Rumpus has been in - 2-3 metres - quite scary at the marina mouth off the surf beach where the swell had Rumpus's depth gauge showing zero beneath the keel between each wave!
We had a wonderful sail in the afternoon and evening - last boat to leave Israel and about the 6th boat in to Egypt , at 1.30am in the morning - after passing an oil rig - and arriving at the Suez Canal entrance.
At 6.30 am the whole rally moved in a procession down the first part of the canal to our marina.

We then went to Cairo and sailed feluccas on the Nile, and the next day visited the pyramids. It was extremely hot as you can imagine. A real highlight was the Cairo Museum with its unsurpassed collection of antiquities, including all the contents of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, which are staggering in their beauty, condition and significance. He died at 16, so they would have been making these things all during his short life, to leave with him for his afterlife. The gold is amazing; the workmanship so fine and showing so much love and respect for the pharaoh. WE also saw, nestled next to the Great Pyramid, the oldest boat in existence, a huge 45 m Nile river barge built for King Cheops, and excavated from a pit beside the pyramid in 1954. It has been reassembled and it is truly grand.

Now we are back in Herzliya near Tel Aviv after a wonderful sail back from Port Said - 160 nautical miles, the longest passage in the rally.

We were the last boat to leave the Suez Canal entrance at about midday, and the whole fleet in front of us was a great sight with a lovely 15 knot northwester pushing boats along on a tight reach - for the first time in the whole rally all the boats were sailing and no diesel was being burned..... for a while anyway. We had an informal race challenge ( well it was going to be a race....) with Zia, the 51 foot catamaran, and had prepared to blitz them with our spinnaker up , but sadly the hoped for Westerly didn't kick in. Rupe had a wonderful day counting the boats we passed....till he got to 25, then started counting the boats in front. By the end of the passage the morning after we left these included Zia, of course ( Rupe said several times: " unfortunately, this is a perfect breeze for Zia.....") and Sansipapp, a lovely Farr 50 footer from Sweden. So the passage was 21 hours with a full moon and lovely breeze for much of the way - sadly no fish; we were going too fast!

But no rest for the wicked - tomorrow morning early we leave for Larnaca in Cyprus to meet Rupe's daughter Kate and her husband Duncan and friends for a week. This will be a very long passage, 28 hours, so a big challenge. We are nonetheless really looking forward to swimming off the boat and being in anchorages and going wherever we want to !!!

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