Sunday, 4 October 2009

Beirut sail

130 nautical miles
I get one of those phone calls... one that you wish happens everyday... 'Richard, how would you like to sail to Beirut with us?' Does Tim need to ask? I leap at the opportunity. Tim's boss and sailing friend Marwan has brought his new Jeanneau to Larnaca and they have one space available for the sail back to Beirut.

I join them at 08:45 on Saturday morning. We cleared customs and immigration at Larnaca and then sailed off towards Nissi Beach at Agia Napa.

Tim and Marwan set the asymetric spinnaker with me controlling lines in the cockpit. Marwan's spinnaker is bright red. 'They will certainly see us coming!' The wind is light and the spinnaker flies... but only just.

When we arrive we anchor just outside the buoys that mark the reserved swimming zone. Tim and I row in to the beach in the tender and the other three swim to the shore.

When I say Tim and I row in, I should clarify that Tim rows and I am passenger. I am thankful as my shoulder is still painful and on the yacht I am very wary moving around as sharp movements to grab something creates excruciating pain.

From the beach SAGA 3 lies at anchor creating an idyllic image of Cyprus life: Sun, sea and beautiful people. We sit and enjoy a freshly squeezed orange juice and a halloumi sandwich. Dance music punches through the air, demonstrating the vitality of this tourist haven. There's movement on the beach... always in time with the rhythm of the drum beat.

It's time to set sail. Tim rows out to the yacht with me and Ziad and then Ziad rows back to pick up Marwan and Jamil.

It's quite a long row with the wind blowing the light tender around.

While they are coming Tim and I stow the spinnaker as we will not use it overnight to save going onto the foredeck in the dark.

Watching the sun set and the moon rise while at sea is one of those glorious times when you marvel at the splendour of God's creation. At the same time thankful to Marwan for giving me the opportunity to be there miles from land and enjoy this sight.

Tim cooks enough spaghetti to feed a crew of eight... and there are only five of us. But with the sea breeze and his spaghetti sauce we sit and do justice to the meal.

Marwan, Jamil and I take the first watch and Tim and Ziad take the second watch. Marwan and Tim had agreed to two long watches rather than the more normal shorter ones. It meant we stayed up till 03:30 and Tim took over then. Actually this works better for people that are naturally late or naturally early people. Each watch is optimized for the body clock of the people concerned.

Marwan has a very nice Raymarine E series plotter and integrated radar system that allows you to set warning zones and track radar targets. So through the night we monitor approaching vessels leaving the autopilot to actually steer the boat. He had the system mounted at the back of the deck table. Initially when I looked at it and I thought it was strange place, but Marwan chose well and it is a great location for pleasure sailing in good weather in the eastern Mediterranean. You can sit on the stern seat comfortably between the two wheels monitoring radar or plotting waypoints.

After a few hours sleep I get up to find the rest of the crew on deck as we sail into the rising sun. The sea is smooth and we are motoring along gently. Tim has communicated with the UN warship patrolling off the Lebanese coast and with 'Oscar Charlie', the central Lebanese shipping control.

As we arrive at Beirut, the sun is glistening over the water and the city is draped in mist, at peace with itself and the world. Long may it stay that way. We motor into Beirut marina to pick up fuel, and finally motor round to the Movenpick marina for a champagne breakfast. The prefect end to a delightful voyage.

1 comment:

Chris Marthinson said...

Terrific post. Thanks for the great story and photos!