Israel: Clearing into Ashkelon – May 2017

Another cruiser’s experience of clearing into Israel and using the marina at Ashkelon.

Published 6 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Clearing in and out of Ashkelon, Israel and some more . . .

Ashkelon Marina

May 2017 by SY Amber Nectar

Approaching Israel

We had contacted the Navy by the internet before we left Egypt and “filled” in the IMOT form as requested – but it didn’t work. We also contacted the Marina 2 weeks before our intended arrival, but we never got a reply.

I spoke about those two subjects with the manager of the Marina in Ashkelon after we arrived, and he explained that it is not working that way. He advised “to just come” because 20 miles offshore you will be approached anyway by a navy boat and then the whole administrative rigmarole will start. The  IMOT “form” is for big ships, not for sailing yachts, so the navy has no protocol to handle those forms. Apart from that, every correspondence is in Hebrew, we didn’t understand the email we got back from the navy. So we just waited for the navy boat when we came closer to Ashkelon.

In our case it was indeed what happened, we were intercepted 20 miles offshore and for 45 minutes we had to give all details by VHF. They didn’t have any info about us, so the IMOT form didn’t reach them. The navy is then contacting the marina, which is by way of an official email form. The Marina then alerts Customs and Immigration. The navy boat redirected us around a restricted area south of Ashkelon where there are two oil or gas platforms in a no-go area which put 5 hours to our sailing time. We had calculated to arrive around 4 pm but we arrived at 9 pm and had to pay overtime, which is double the price. More about this later.

Marina Ashkelon – Clearance

When you enter the Marina through the breakwater there is immediately a dock to port with a gate around it and that is where you have to go and that is where Customs and Immigration are waiting for you. They help you secure your lines and then everybody has to leave the boat without taking anything…

Then the security officer searches the boat in the presence of a crew member, first above deck and then below deck. They look carefully everywhere, but in our case, not extensively.  No lockers had to be emptied. The Customs officer asks many, many questions, some very personal, like: “Where have you met your husband and when… and how do you know your crew member and did you invite him or did he ask you if he could  come…etc etc.” They are looking for patterns. After the security person gives the “all clear” the Customs officer enters the boat with some vials,  again in the presence of a crew member. They swab around, take some “samples’ and then declare you safe and you are cleared in. You don’t get a stamp in your passport but on a separate piece of paper.

If you tell  Customs and Immigration that you have a friend in Israel you can expect a delay of at least 3 hours because they go immediately after that person, day or night. If you want to stay friends with your friend, then it is maybe better not to mention them…or let them know in advance.

Overtime explained.

The marina office and operations are open from Sunday till Thursday from 8 is till 4 pm. Only when you arrive within this “time frame” are you paying normal rates. The Marina office is closed on Friday and Saturday.

Any time outside this frame is OVERTIME and you pay more.

Normal rate: Clearing in or Clearing out is 56 US$ and 20 US$ per passport.

All other times you pay OVERTIME for clearing in or clearing out which is 112 US$ and 25 US$ per passport.

Clearing out

For clearing out you have to notify the Marina officially 72 hours in advance, but if you do it 24 hours in advance it will maybe be OK. The Marina is in charge of Customs and Immigration and notifies them. They will tell you what is possible. The costs are the same as for clearing in.

BEWARE: After clearing out you have to leave the country immediately.

We had been told that it is cheaper to clear out in Haifa because the Main Office of Port Control is in Haifa.

Marina facilities

The Marina at Ashkelon has helpful staff and the manager told us that there is always a spot for a foreign yacht. No need for reservations. It is cheaper to stay for a month than just for a few days. For a 34 feet yacht, it was 15 US$ per day per month, whilst just a day was 40 US$. Prices are related to the length of the boat.

Water is free and power is a fixed price of 17.50 US$ per month.

Services ashore and costs

Israel is one of the most expensive countries in the world, according to the Israeli’s themselves and it is absolutely true.

One thing which is not so expensive is public transport by bus. The bus is popular (it transports the military) and there are many regular services, big bus stations, and the buses are on time. The marina has many buses stops close to the entrance.

Basic food is affordable but things like a cauliflower can cost 6 US$.

There is no real center in Ashkelon, it is an amalgamation of many suburbs. No fresh food markets. There are also some beautiful beaches. There are many Russians living in Ashkelon so things like pork and bacon are readily available at the Russian supermarkets which also have nice things like smoked mackerel and herring and very nice brown beer. Russian supermarkets are not so expensive.

Report by Karin from SY Amber Nectar

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