Visit to Israel
Published 13 years ago, updated 5 years ago
We had not planned to go to Israel but the batten pockets on our new Turkish-made mainsail were tearing and the only sailmaker in the Eastern Med. that we could find was a North Sails agent near Tel Aviv (Easy Swisser).
We checked out of Lebanon and headed south and called up Haifa radio on the VHF. They interrogated us for over half an hour on the VHF. We were told to keep at least 15 miles off the coast as we sailed south. The İsraeli navy called us up a number of times and at one stage during the night we were instructed to stop. A İsraeli warship then sailed around us with a blinding spotlight on us.
When we finally arrived a few miles off Ashkelon, a gunship came round us at least 3 times with about 8 heavily armed soldiers aboard. Two navy planes flew over us. Despite this constant attention the İsraeli navy was always very polite and thanked us for co-operating.
We finally arrived at Ashkelon marina and the manager (Hillel Reshef) came and showed us to the security quay. We were interrogated by two security men who were businesslike but courteous. The boat was then searched and swabs were taken to see if there were traces of explosives aboard. We were then interrogated once again, separately, and at length, by a young security officer who could only be described as aggressive and offensive.
The manager and a number of Israeli boat owners later apologized to us for the behaviour of the security man.
We asked that our passports not be stamped as we were intending to continue down the Red Sea where most Moslem countries do not recognize İsrael and will not let you in if you have a İsraeli stamp in your passport.
We stayed 9 days and paid about US$135. Drinking water is available in the marina and there are washing machines in the shower block. The staff, once again, were very friendly and helpful. The sailmaker did an excellent repair to our sail and the Turkish sailmaker reimbursed us the cost of the repair!
When we left the marina and headed towards Egypt, the marina gave us a course to sail to avoid the restricted area around Gaza and advised us to call the İsraeli navy and advise them of our movements.