Log #25o Herzliya, Jerusalem and Masada, the end of the EMYR

September 8, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 25 EMYR, The Logs

Sept. 8, 2002
Ormos Kolitzani, Ios, Greece

Hi Folks,

Well, this log finishes the EMYR. I will be making up a new address list for my next section of logs in Turkey and Greece, so if you wish to get them let me know if you haven’t already done so.

We are on Ios at anchor in a secluded beach, a favourite of campers who enjoy nude sunbathing, and last night went to a local festival at Moni Kalamou, a monastery near Agia Theodoti across the island on the NE coast.

I hope I have all your addresses OK, as my floppy disc on which I was downloading and sending my E-mail was damaged and is inaccessible. Thus I have to use an older address list (which I have not kept up to date) and lost all my E–mails for the last month or so. Today when I go in to send this, I will see if I can access earlier E-mails from Old Mail on my AOL site. As I send my E-mails with blind copies, accessing Sent Mail will not give me the addresses, I think. Oh well, “If you can’t take a joke…”.

The weather has been lovely the last few days, and the Meltemi has not been blowing. We are making our way over towards Athens where we will be meeting my son Alvin who will be joining us for a week at the end of the month.

This log takes us to Jerusalem and Masada, the final tours of the EMYR. It was an enjoyable, intense experience, well worth the time and extremely good value for the money. My next series of logs will take us back up to Haifa, to Turkey, and our cruising the south west coast of Turkey and the Greek Aegean for the rest of the summer and fall. That was over two months ago and I have not yet started on them, so I’d better get busy.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #25o Herzliya, Jerusalem and Masada, the end of the EMYR

Aug 25, 2002
Emborios, Nisos Kalymnos, Greece

We slipped Port Said at 1200 on June 12 but had to idle at the entrance to the camber until all boats were away, before we led the entire flotilla out the canal at 1240, reaching the outer buoy at 1310. We were leaders of Group 1, and thus were the first to exit into a pleasant force 3 north wind for our close hauled course of 063ْ  to Herzliya in Israel. We motor sailed to keep up our speed, but were able to sail at hull speed for an eight hour period during the late afternoon and evening. We covered the 138 nautical miles in 24 hours for an average speed of 5.6 knots which for us in a 9.75 metre boat is very good. We contacted the Israeli navy a few hours before arrival, but there was not the delay we experienced when we first entered Israel at Haifa. We were at our mooring in Herzliya, a suburb of Tel Aviv, by 1310, the last port of the EMYR. Since joining the rally in Bodrum (37ْ 02.0’N, 027ْ 25.4’E) on May 6th, and landing here in Herzliya (32ْ 09.8’N, 034ْ 47.7’E) on June 13th, we have covered 1273 nautical miles, visiting 14 ports in 39 days using only 400 litres (100 US gallons) of diesel.

We were well received at this modern marina with polite security questioning, and some small gifts from the marina. The final formal rally dinner was held that night, a free bar, a lovely buffet, a short speech by the mayor of Herzliya, presentations to the local officials, raucous presentations of EMYR plaques to each of the boats by the group leaders and to the Turkish Coast Guard officers by Hasan, and a final singing of the EMYR song. After presenting Group One’s plaques, we, Group One, sung another EMYR song made up by Kathleen of Three Sheets to the Wind. Even though this marked the formal end of the EMYR, we knew that next day we would be on the buses again for our free trip to Jerusalem and Masada, courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism. However, the Turkish Coast Guard boats hosted another final reception on the docks near midnight, as that was when they were due to leave to return to Turkey. So, we gathered on the dock beside their boats, enjoying the last of their wines, beers, and liquors, the remains of which they left on the jetty for us to enjoy in their absence. One of their officers had a teary farewell to an attractive girl he had met, and had to leave her on the jetty. We waved, wished them well, and blew our horns as they pulled away. Before they exited the camber, they set off a series of fireworks in salute to us. Thank you Turkish Coast Guard!

Several boats were staying around Herzliya afterwards for various activities, and another smaller group was taking a tour to Petra in Jordan. So rather than one big farewell, we would be leaving the rally individually as we left Herzliya over the next week. The marina kindly offered us several free days mooring on our return from the Jerusalem/Masada tour.

Off to Jerusalem! After a bit of morning rush hour traffic we were on a good highway to Jerusalem. We looked from Mount Scopus across the valley of ancient graves to many of the sights mentioned in the Bible. In through the Zion Gate, the security was not as obvious as it was when I was here 25 years ago. In fact on one of the ancient walls there were purple clad figures in positions of mounting the walls to advertise the film “Spider Man”.  Our first major stop was at the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, with the Dome of the Rock above it. A large parking area was sectioned off by security gates, to open on a further space sloping to the base of the wall. The area immediately below the wall was sectioned off into men’s and women’s areas for prayers. On the men’s side the Orthodox Jews in their black suits, prayer shawls, yarmulkes and other religious paraphernalia were reading from the Torah, chanting, or facing the wall bobbing rapidly as they said their prayers. The cracks in the wall were stuffed with small pieces of paper, prayers or wishes from the pilgrims. There is a large cave-like room at the left side with religious books and a library of sorts, ornate scrolled Torahs, candelabra, and other religious artifacts. We wandered through, uncertain as to the appropriate behaviour. I felt uncomfortable in the presence of these intense devotees. The absoluteness of their rituals, prayers, and beliefs was … intimidating.

I did not feel any greater degree of comfort at the Christian Holy sites, such as the Holy Sepulcher, as they are overly adorned and commercialized. For me, they appeared verging on the idolatrous, with all their scowling icons, gold dripping lamps, sorrowful dark coloured statuary, heavy, dusty incense, in gloomy airless chambers. The claim that Christ was born “here”, or crucified “there”, where an altar, an opening in the floor, or a shrine had been venerated for centuries, left me feeling … empty. For me it is enough to be in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land, in the Mid East where the essential revelations of the three great monotheistic religions were developed. The dry rock-strewn fields, the dusty roads, the open blue sky, the windswept waters of the seas and lakes are the venues known to Christ, the apostles and the prophets; not the religious trappings.

We went through some of the sections of the walled town, visiting the Tomb of King David and the room of the Last Supper. We noted the different quarters, as we passed through the Muslim and Armenian souks and the restored Jewish Quarter. We wandered through the Cardo, an original Roman-Byzantine mall, that has been restored, and is lined with expensive antique shops. We didn’t have time on this tour to visit Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial) or the National Museum of Israel, but Judy and I went on our own a few days later. We had lunch at the old established Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, the guest house of which reminded me of a university campus with its large open entrance, cafeteria and meeting rooms. From the heights of its patio we were able to see across the valley to Bethlehem (which we did not visit because of the present turmoil), and to a new modern suburban real estate development on an overlooking hill, one of the “settlements” in the (occupied) territories. After lunch we went for a short drive to another summit, part of the kibbutz, where crumbling concrete trenches and collapsing strong points were still in evidence. Our guide explained how this kibbutz defended the area against the Palestinians after Israel was created in 1948. We had some interesting political discussions with him on the two day trip.

After driving around the city, passing the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) and the Supreme Court building, we visited the Church of John the Baptist then we went to the Olive Tree Hotel, a large comfortable “kosher” establishment that was hosting a large orthodox wedding party. Of the four elevators, three of them were Shabbat elevators, and it was a Friday night we were there, during the Jewish Sabbath. At this time the Shabbat elevators operate fully automatically so the devout Jew can observe the admonition to light no fires on the Sabbath. Pressing an electrical switch can cause a spark which is akin to lighting a fire. Thus three of the elevators would stop at every floor, slowly automatically opening and closing the doors. It was a bit disconcerting taking such a slow trip down from the tenth floor. We soon learned which one was not a Shabbat elevator.

Next morning we were off to the Dead Sea and Masada. Just outside Jerusalem the highway (which was in excellent condition except one spot where, over a wadi, it was washed out) took us down a long incline through the Judean Hills and into the Judean Desert 400 metres below sea level to the shores of the Dead Sea٭ (see details below). We could see the hills of Jordan on the far side as we drove south past Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, down to Masada٭٭ (see details below). There we took a cable car to the top, except for a fit ambitious couple who chose to walk the path up. The panorama from the top was spectacular, although there was a haze across the Dead Sea. We could see to the salt shallows at the south end of the sea, across to Jordan, and up the coast for several miles. Below we could make out the rectangular remains of the Roman encampments used in the final siege of Masada over 1900 years ago.

On the northwest side we could see the ramp that was built (using Jewish slave labour) to bring the siege machinery to the gates of Masada. The zealots defending Masada were responsible for killing their families and others of the 1000 inhabitants before falling on their own swords or killing each other in 73 AD after the fall of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Diaspora. For a while, the Israeli military swore their oaths of service on Masada, but I think that has been discontinued. However this is a very significant memorial for the Israelis.

After leaving Masada we went to Qumran for lunch, and then for a “swim” in the Dead Sea. I put “swim” in quotation marks, as the sea was so salty that if one tried to swim his legs would bob up to the surface forcing his head into the extremely salty water. The best way was to float on one’s back and enjoy the buoyancy the sea provided. Some people smeared mud over themselves as it was supposed to have beneficial effects on the skin. In fact there is a small industry of Dead Sea mud and other lotions sold on site. After a few drinks and some dancing in the outdoor bar at the beach, we boarded the buses for our trip back to Herzliya. Now the EMYR was really over.

Next day, some boats left; others stayed and their crews went to Petra in Jordan; still others spent a day or so recuperating before their departure. Judy and I went back into Jerusalem via Tel Aviv by minibus and regular bus. That evening there was another suicide bomber who blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing several students…

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٭DEAD SEA.  Between Israel and Jordan lies the Dead Sea. It is actually a salt lake that is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) long and 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide. Its surface area is about 394 square miles (1,020 square kilometers). Its surface level is 1,292 feet (394 meters) below that of the Mediterranean Sea, making it the lowest body of water in the world.

The Dead Sea extends from north to south in a great depression between rocky cliffs. The depression is a rift valley, caused by the Earth’s crust having slipped down between two parallel fractures. The valley is a part of the Great Rift Valley, which continues northward through the Jordan River valley and the Sea of Galilee, and southward through the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea and across East Africa.

The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea from the north. Because the Dead Sea is situated in a desert, the climate is very hot and rainfall seldom exceeds 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) a year. Evaporation carries off about 55 percent of the sea’s waters annually. This evaporation often results in a thick mist that hovers over the lake.

No river flows out of the lake. As a result, the Dead Sea is about 25 percent salt, or about seven times as salty as the ocean. The extreme salinity allows bathers to float easily, but it prevents most animal and vegetable life, except bacteria and brine shrimp, from inhabiting the lake.

The name Dead Sea can be traced back to at least 323 BC. The lake was also called by several different names, such as the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Plain, and the East Sea, in biblical times.

The lake shores yield salt, potash, and bromides. Bitumen, or native asphalt, is also found. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were on the shores of the Dead Sea. The biblical manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls were found on the northwest shore, near the ruins known as Khirbat Qumran (see Dead Sea Scrolls). [1]

٭٭Masada, flat mountaintop fortress in Israel near coast of Dead Sea, where Jews made a last desperate stand against Romans in AD 72-73; about 1,424 ft (434 m) high with an area of 18 acres (7 hectares) on top; dominated by palaces and fortresses built by Herod the Great; after fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, it was the last defensive outpost; Roman force of about 15,000 spent nearly two years battling 1,000; all but seven of defenders killed themselves instead of surrendering.  [2]



[1]From Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

[2]From Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.