Freebirdie's Sailin' Blog

22 November 2011 | Seattle
01 August 2011 | Santa Maria di Leuca
03 July 2011 | Greece
15 June 2011 | Gulf of Corinth
05 June 2011 | Athens
28 May 2011 | Poros Greece
25 April 2011 | Symi Island
13 April 2011 | Naxos, Greece
20 February 2011 | Istanbul, Turkey
30 January 2011 | Ephesus
28 January 2011 | Marmaris
16 January 2011 | Selcuk, Turkey
31 December 2010 | Marmaris
24 October 2010 | Cappadocia, Turkey
16 September 2010 | Marmaris Turkey
26 August 2010 | Fethiye, Turkey
19 August 2010 | Marmaris
03 August 2010 | Larnaca Cyprus
01 August 2010 | Mediterranean Sea
30 July 2010 | Ashkelon Marina

Goodbye Israel

01 August 2010 | Mediterranean Sea
Dave and Judy

Freebird's bound for the island of Cyprus. The distant coast of Israel is in our wake. As we watch the land fade into the mist, we reflect on our Israeli experiences. Our last week was spent hanging with our new friends celebrating two birthdays, squeezing in a day trip back to Jerusalem and a visit to Bethlehem, We even got in a little beach time. Memories of Israel will hold a special place for us.

Our sail is once again.... not a "sail".... but a "MOTOR!". The wind just won't cooperate. It's hot. With no wind to cool us, it's down right miserable. We're only running on one motor. This gives us a max speed of about 5.5 knots. We just filled our fuel tanks at over $8.00 US per a gallon. Each motor burns about three quarters of a gallon per hour. This all equates to operating cost of about ten dollars per hour for two motors. (over $1.50 US per nautical mile) This combination will give us a speed of about 6.5 knots. We only gain one knot of speed for double the cost. We arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus after 34 hours, with only 4 hours of sailing. BROTHER!!!
Our friends Tim and Rose from the yacht "Rendezvous Cay" were on the dock to welcome us. We quickly deployed the air conditioner and retreated to the coolness of the cabin. We can only run our AC when we are connected to shore power. Normally I fight turning the thing on. I don't like the feeling of confinement and the sudden temperature changes as you move in and out of the cabin. This time......there was no resistance from me. God bless that wonderful machine! We arrived around sunset. Our next appearance on deck was 14 hours later, in the morning. You couldn't pry us from the comfort of our little nest. We peddled into the city for some coffee. The headlines of the local rag said "RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES EXPECTED TO CONTINUE!" Our previous day of misery was reported to be a staggering 46.7 degrees C. (116 degrees f.) No wonder! I thought we were just turning into wimps......
We used our trusty bikes and spent the next few days exploring our new surroundings. Wow! Civilization..... nice restaurants, Starbucks, hardware stores, .....Stay tuned..


30 July 2010 | Ashkelon Marina
Dave and Judy
Last night our new Israeli friends, Morris and Suzanne, invited us to Morris's birthday party. We enjoyed an evening with their family of about 25 people. They served a delicious kosher meal hot off the barbecue.

This morning a rocket landed a short distance from our new friends home and about a half a mile from Freebird. It landed in a parking lot and blew out some windows of the surrounding apartments. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. You probably won't hear about it on the news. That is, not until Israel retaliates. Then, it's big news.

We heard the warning siren go off and then less than a minute later there was a loud concussion that shook the boat. Our friend Mark on another yacht said he could see the smoke coming up in an area between the apartments. Judy passed by the site on the way to the market and said that if it had landed a little one way or the other somebody would have died for sure.

Now that I am personally under attack, I feel an urge to express my opinion.

Israel exists.

It won't go away, no mater how many rockets are fired. The country has a right to protect itself. It doesn't want to expand it's borders. Israel has been attacked by it's neighbors multiple times. Sometimes it has had to defend itself against four countries at once. Most of the leading Arab countries backed the attacks with funds, forces and weapons. At the time these governments were dedicated to the complete destruction of the State of Israel. Some still are. (Iran, Syria) Each time Israel has held up against the attacks. Sometimes, when the dust settles they occupy more land than before they came under attack. They hold on to this land for a while to try and negotiate a peace settlement and usually give it back.... until the next time. Under the original creation of Israel all the current residents were invited to stay and live peacefully as Israeli citizens. They were promised freedom of religion and all the other benefits that come with Israeli citizenship. Granted there were and still are some problems but it seems to be working for those who chose to stay. They have enjoyed the freedoms and opportunities afforded here. We have met Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Israelis who just want to live in peace and harmony. Unfortunatly, there exists small groups who thrive on hate and violence. They are the ones firing rockets at Freebird (and Israel too).

So you ask, What has Israel done that makes these people so obsessed with killing Israeli civilians. The answer: it exists. The religious and sociological differences can't be tolerated by these small groups. So many generations have been taught to hate that it is ingrained from birth. That's why I feel they can never win. The rocket shooters are motivated by hate. Israel has a greater motivation, it's right to exist.

Road trip, Day Four

09 July 2010 | Dead Sea
Dave and Judy

We're headed South through the desert. The Dead Sea and Masada fortress is our destination. The Sea comes into view and it certainty looks "DEAD" We park and decide to take a dip. The Dead Sea is 8.6 times higher in salt content than the ocean. We see people floating high in the water. Dave decides to do his usual entry with a dive head first. Wooooha! Not a good idea. Back on the beach flushing his burning eyes with fresh water. He decides he doesn't like the Dead Sea. It'll kill ya! His throat is burning any cuts or open wounds are stinging. We came all the way here for this? A good flush down under the fresh water shower and things were better. Judy decided to slap some mud on her face.... She seemed to actually enjoy it.... hmm. We can now say that we "swam" in the dead sea. CHECK!... Probably won't be back here real soon.

Back on the road we head down the west side of the "Sea". We arrive at our digs for the night. A super deluxe hostel. Not bad, AC, private rooms with baths. It's hot outside and we keep to the air conditioned building for dinner. There is nothing around for miles anyway. This is the departure point for climbing the trail UP to Masada.

We wake up at 4:30 AM. The four of us stumble around in the dark and finally find the trail up to the ancient fortress. Neville and Mark zoom ahead while Judy and Dave trudge along at a more civilized paced. Up we go. We climb for an hour and a half. Finally we arrive at the summit just before the sun creeps up over the Jordanian desert. The light of a new day is upon us. The mercury starts to climb. A couple of hours are spent walking through the ruins was all the heat we could take. It was time to head down the hill. There is gondola that is the easy (smart) way of coming and going. The problem is it doesn't start running until 0800. We would have missed the all important sunrise. Plus look at all the exercise we got. We're ready to head down to a cool shower. It's only 07:30. We decide we need even more exercise so, down we go. About half way Dave's knees decide to act up. As we're stumbling along we look up. There goes the gondola. hmmmm. We did make it back mostly in one piece. After breakfast and a nice cool shower we were ready to hit the road.

Two and a half hours drive and we are back aboard Freebird. It feels so good to be home.

Road trip, Day Three

08 July 2010 | Northern, Israel
Dave and Judy

Today we drove around the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. The route took us along the shore of the lake then up to the "Mount of Beatitudes." Where Jesus delivered his famous Sermon on the Mount. We wandered around with the crowd of other lookers and enjoyed the views over the lake. The Roman Catholic chapel has been built on the site and people enter to pray. There is a sign on the entrance telling people to keep silent, but it seemed to be ignored. There was some laughter and even yelling in a multitude of languages, that was so distracting for us. Sometimes people don't realize or forget where they are they are so busy seeing the sights....

Our next stop was the "House of Peter" where Jesus spent much of his time. The remains of the old synagogue are still there and a church built over the site. Somebody decides that if it's mentioned in the Bible that they better build a church on it. There are lots of churches in this holy land.

Driving up into the Golan Heights we arrive at the 12th century Nimrod Fortress.

Built after the defeat of the Crusaders this place has changed hands between Muslims and Christians over the centuries as they vied for control of the region. The views were spectacular.

We were getting a little famished after all the tramping through the castle so we decided to find a winery and see if we could get some lunch. We stopped at the small boutique Mountain Winery. Sorry, no lunch but try some wine. We did and so we bought one. Still hungry, we finally stop in a small town at a small restaurant. Lunch is finished with out frills and off we go.

Our drive takes us down the east side of the lake (Sea of Galilee). Kites are spotted over the lake above the trees. We take a right turn to investigate. A short walk and we are on a hot sand blown beach. Sun worshipers and kite boarders abound. Nevelle taks a dip while the rest of us stand by. (This is a check for him! Swam in the Sea of Galilee, check)

After a long day on the road we arrive at the old city of Nazareth. The streets are narrow cobble stone paths and we park our car outside the city. Up the ancient windy pathways we go.

Finally we duck into the entrance of the Fazi Azar Inn where we have reservations for the night. The Fazi Azar Inn is a gloriously restored 200 year old mansion in the center of the city.

Our room is on the top floor. The old servants quarters. We can look out the window across the old city below.

We leave our friends and take off for a walk around the city. Most of the shops are closed but we find one nice looking resturant open. The Tishreen restaurant turned out to be some of the best food we've had in a long time... right down to the perfect Creme Brulee to finish it off....

Road trip, Day Two

07 July 2010 | The Old City of Akko, Israel
Dave and Judy

This 4000 year old city is a feast for Historians. Akko or Acre as the Israeli's call it is an enchanting mix of mosques, markets, and Crusader ruins. We spent most of the day following winding cobble stone lanes past outdoor markets and shops While walking high on the ramparts we were treated to views on one side of the ancient city, looking the other way was the small fishing port of Pisan Harbor with the Mediterranean sea in the distance.

Again we are blessed with a beautiful day. The smell of fresh fish cooking nearby led us to a small sea side restaurant. As we dined we enjoyed watching the fishing boats come and go and kids playing in the water nearby. We finished Akko with a look at the old Turkish Bath House where the sunlight filtered down thru the holes in the doomed ceiling like magic. The Ethnology Center was set up into small sections that had all of the gear for the various craftsmen of the time, like hat makers, silver smiths right on down to even horseshoes ~ so informative!

Next we find ourselves on the road headed for The Sea of Galilee. On the way we make a stop at Tzfat (Safed) a small hillside community of traditional Orthodox Jews who are known for incorporating Kabbalah, also known as Jewish mysticism beliefs into their secular lives. It reminded me, judy, of the feeling i felt in Sante Fe/Taos, in New Mexico. Tzfat is the highest and coldest of the Israeli cities. Artists have inhabited this community since the early 50's. We toured the galleries and studios of the local artists and got away with just 2 small purchases.... :>}}}

Next stop ....Tiberus and the Sea of Galilee

Road trip Day One

06 July 2010 | Haifa, Israel
Dave and Judy

This is our first overnight stop on a 5 day road trip with our friends, Mark and Neville from the sailing yacht Quo vadis. We've been sharing a rental car with them for this past month. Next we coerced them into letting us tag along on their planned tour of Israel instead of heading out along the same route when they returned next week. We briefly stopped on the way to Haifa in Caesarea, an ancient Roman City with lots of intriguing history.

We arrived hungry at the Gallery Hotel in the downtown area. Food was the first order of business. A short walk to the "German Colony" brought us to a nice little sidewalk cafe. After a long scrumptious lunch we waddled down to the to the terminal to catch the underground cable car. Up we rumbled through a tunnel under the city to the top of Mount Carmel. The views of the city below were breathtaking. The air was warm and clear. Everywhere there were gardens with flowers. Haifa is on the top of our best cities list...clean, friendly, lots of interesting history, long white sandy beaches, colorful gardens and very multi cultural.

Our wandering brought us to the entrance of the Baha'i gardens. This beautiful place is the center of the Baha'i faith. It's quite impressive. The perfectly manicured landscape decended below us 1000 meters. The famous center piece, the gold covered dome Shrine of the Bab in the center of the garden is under cover for renovation... Darn! We missed the afternoon tour that allows us access to the entire garden so we satisfied ourselves with the top two terraces.

We decided to walk down the hill through the city. We stopped and had conversations with the friendly locals. Eventually we arrived at Stella Maris Carmelite Church and Elijah's cave. This site is considered sacred by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It is said to be the site where Elijah found refuge from the wrath of Ahab, king of Israel from 871 to 853 BC......Really old stuff!

Arriving back at our hotel we were informed that we had been upgraded to a delux suit! How lucky! Our friends were extremely jealous.... Judy enjoyed the the jetted tub while Dave hung out on the large balcony watching the action on the street below. That night we drifted to sleep the luxury of a big soft comfy bed.

After breakfast we continued our exploring on foot through Talpoit, the local veggi market of Haifa. They have the most amazing varieties there..... the biggest fattest Fruits and the freshest cleanest Vegetables and ....the most amazing looking People that we've seen in ages! This is a super place for People watching.

Soon we are back on the road, headed for Akko.


04 July 2010 | Jericho, Israel
Dave and Judy

Jericho is said to be the oldest walled city on earth. It's also one of the lowest at 223 meters below sea level. We also think it is one of hottest. We arrived in our air conditioned car and hopped out...... almost falling to our knees in the sweltering heat. We were interested in visiting the monastery that's on the Mount of Temptation where Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting. There were two ways to get up there. Hike, or cable car....hmm....Not much of a choice with this heat. The ride up took us over remnants of the old city. They have never found the walls that "came falling down" but there is lots of other signs of the old civilization. Tel Jericho is reportedly 10,000 years old!
The hot dry desert carried away into the hazy horizon. At the top we still had about 300 stairs to climb. We arrived at the closed door when we realized that it was Sunday. The monks were in prayer and surely they didn't want to be disrupted. Judy knocked on the door and we waited. Just as we were walking away the door creaked open. A sleepily looking little fellow greeted us. We asked if we could tour the Monastery today.. He looked out the door and asked "are there more?" Uh...No, just us. He smiled and invited us in. Talking in whispers we moved through the cave like structure.

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After a few stairwells and tunnel like passageways we arrived at the ancient doors to the chapel. Our guide pushed them open and we stepped inside. We were instantly transported back in to the 12 century AD when the Greek Orthodox Christians constructed this holy place. Our guide directed us up more stairs and passageways to the cave where Jesus is said to have fasted. For some reason we were allowed one picture here.

We were then lead back to the entrance. After a short chat with our host we trudged down the shadeless stairs to the tram. 20 minutes later we were back at 220 meters below sea level.


02 July 2010 | Jerusalem, Israel
Dave and Judy

The Holy City. It's old. It's historic. You've heard the stories of past and present. We decided to check it out for ourselves. We headed out in our rental car and promptly got lost. After a couple of hours we did find a parking lot to drop off the car. We entered the Old City on foot through the Jaffa Gate. Against our better judgement we hired a guide. This turned out to be the best thing we could have done. Tony had a firm handle on the place. We only had the one day because Bruce was off to the airport for deportation back to the real world later that night.

Tony showed us where Jesus walked, died, was buried and a lot more. We saw King David's castle, the Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, The Dome of the Rock, the location of the Last Supper and on and on.

The city is made up of four quarters: Islamic, Christan, Jewish, and Armenian. Each has a distinct personality. Each has a tale to tell. The streets are made of narrow cobble stones. The ancient buildings almost touch above them. Some actually bridge over the top of the street to create tunnels in the lively Islamic quarter where vendors hawk their wears. After a few hours we were starved and Tony took us to a little restaurant in the very center of it all. It was fun to try the various mystery foods. There must have been 20 different sauces and dishes on the table. Fun!

Judy made a pilgrimage to honor Shindler's grave (Shindler's List)

Went by the Oscar Fiedler family (Boston Pops).....(Fiddler on the Roof)

King David's Tomb.

There is every kind of costume here, Muslims in their burkas, Jews in their yamakas, Priests in long black robes swinging incense, Orthodox Jews with their long black coats and top hats with curly earlocks, beautiful women in tight dresses with high heels name it.

All this is situated in view of the security wall in the distance dividing the Israelis and Palestinians There was a rocket attack yesterday just to keep things in perspective. Why can't we just get along? Jesus said: Love your neighbor as yourself, Feed your enemy....Hmm

We'll be back to this interesting place soon

Vessel Name: Freebird
Vessel Make/Model: Grainger MC420 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Dave and Judy Howell
Dave started building Freebird in 1995 in a plastic shed on Camano Island, NW USA and launched her in April of 2001. He retired from the Fire Department in 1999 after 28 years of service. Judy Retired from dentistry in 1995 after 27 years. [...]
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