Friday, July 13, 2012

Israeli Sea Legs

Shalom, chaverim! I write this hoping my sunburn won't get any worse than it already is, but any damage I incurred was worth it. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

I have fulfilled one of my life's ambitions. This ambition was not to have a boat, but to have a friend with a boat. And such a new friend has come into our lives--hurrah! Joel is a long-time oleh from New York who has lived in Nahariya for more than forty years. An orthopedic surgeon, Joel just retired from the local Western Galilee Hospital, so now he has plenty of time and energy to go sailing. Elul met him at a men's Torah study group a few weeks ago, and he was kind enough to invite us to come out for a few hours on his ship, the Optima.

The Optima is a dear old English lady who has seen her fair share of the Mediterranean, with countless voyages primarily to Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. She is a 32.5-footer (10 meters) and could probably sleep four adults in a pinch. For our outing, we were four adults and three young people. As the youngest of the crew was a twelve year old boy from Bellvue, Washington, there were plenty of sea legs aboard.

Joel keeps his ship moored in Acco, a gorgeous and ancient city a few miles south of Nahariya. The port is in the Old City, and while the types of craft docked there wouldn't exactly rival those you'd find in Monaco or Nice, it was a very relaxed and straightforward type of marina.

Acco Marina: Where the diehard casual meet the unapologetically informal

The last time I was on an actual sailing vessel, that wasn't a cruise ship or a ferry boat, was when I was about twelve years old and on my Uncle Mac's boat. At the time, we sailed on the Chesapeake Bay on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Even though I didn't get seasick then or now, I am just as useless a sailor now as I was then. Joel, his friend Tal, and Elul did the lion's share of the work when it came to winching, tying, and performing other verb actions involving ropes and sails. They were gamely assisted by the younger members of the crew, who also really knew what they were doing. There's nothing like being put in one's place by a twelve year old boy, so I quickly relaxed and left the sailing to them. I was made, however, a Keeper of the Watermelon Chunks and Distributor of Peanut Butter Puff-Doodles. I was content with my rank and tried to live up to my pay grade. I only dropped two Peanut Butter Puff-Doodles, which was not bad for a novice.

As a surgeon and as a captain, Joel was very comfortable in making his wishes known to his crew.

Captain Joel, who needs no assertiveness training.

Gali, one of the younger members of the crew, was an experienced sailor and did a fine job assisting.

Gali assists in raising the jib. Getting a ship out of port is a hectic business.
It was a great chance to see Acco from the vantage point usually only seen on postcards. Joel explained that the pink boat was a glass-bottomed party boat that takes tourists out for spins. Furthermore, he said you can usually guess who's on the boat based on what music is being blared out of the speakers: Arab pop music or Hassidic dance music.
Acco's Old City. Think pink if you want to PARTY!

Our route went north towards Lebanon, giving the border area a wide berth, of course. Then we circled back, with a view of the Haifa peninsula on our return. My dreams of dropping anchor and jumping into the sea, a la "Shirley Valentine" were thwarted, however.

Acco and her sea walls, in all their glory.
The reason we couldn't swim was because the "medusot" or giant-a** jellyfish, had arrived, and they were partying like it was 1999. These jellyfish were white, enormous, and everywhere. And when I say they were big, I mean they were big. Literally as big as basketballs. Joel had some vinegar on board to treat possible stings, but no one wanted to chance it. Wise choice, I think.

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Ooh we LOVE Bamba snacks! You can ge them in Publix now! We've been eating them for about 3 years here.


Thank you for reading my blog. I am interested in your comments, but I will delete anything that is either spam or just plain nasty. Please do not use the comments forum as a political or religious soapbox--there are SO many other online forums for those kinds of tedious arguments!