by Des Ryan
Since 1990 yachts from all over the world have converged on Turkey to participate in the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR), and 2011 continues the tradition.
Typical start day for the EMYR
Beginning with a small fleet of 17 boats in its first year,this year 76 yachts from a wide range of sailing countries - USA, Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, France, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany to name just a few - have joined the fleet.
With some boats having started in Istanbul on 22nd April, today the cruising fleet of yachts is about to depart Alanya in Turkey after a long and mostly gentle cruise along the Turkish coast.
While parts of the Middle East is in turmoil and tourism is understandably at one of its all-time lows, the experience of the cruising sailor, welcomed locally and sailing into non-controversial ports with no international airport to transit, is totally different. This year the rally will miss Syria and sail straight from Cyprus to Lebanon.
From Alanya they will head for the town of Girne (or Kyrenia) in Northern Cyprus, then across to Lebanon, along the coastline to Haifah in Israel, pushing around the coastline to Port Said in Egypt and the northern entrance to the Suez Canal. The rally will end back in Israel in Herzliya on 16th June.
Almost every day skippers of yachts write journals of the day's sailing experiences as well as accounts of their land adventures and the welcome festivities which take place along the way.
For these accounts and details of this year's program and activites, go to the http://www.emyr.org/!Eastern_Mediterranean_Yacht_Rally website.