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Egypt Releases Israeli Yachtsmen

by Jerusalem Post/Sail-World Cruising on 2 May 2006
Med Red Rally . .
Jerusalem Post reports that ten Israeli sailors have been released to their two yachts and were making their way northward through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and on to Israeli shores on Monday afternoon after being held by Egyptian authorities since Sunday. The yachts were being accompanied by Egyptian naval vessels, traveling at their top speed of seven knots.

The ten sailors had left the port in Eilat last week in order to join the 50 yachts that sailed from the Herzliya marina headed for the Medred rally. See Sail-World story.

The two yachts caught up with the rest near the Egyptian tourist city of Hurgada on the west bank of the Red Sea. The yachts all turned north, headed for the entrance to the Suez Canal, in order to return to their home port in Herzliya.

Egyptian authorities, however, only allowed the original 50 yachts to sail as planned through the canal and arrested the two accompanying yachts, saying their documents were incorrect and their ships were not recognized.

The yachtsmen tried to convince Egyptian authorities to let them go, but they were promptly taken to Suez port, where their ships were tied and they were forbidden from leaving their ships.

Authorities allowed the ships to sail on Monday only after the intervention of Israeli diplomats.

It’s a blow for the annual rally which up until now had occurred very successfully every year without incident. It started from Yacht Marine in Marmaris, and sailed via Tel Aviv to Port Said. Then after transiting the Suez Canal, the rally sailed from Port Suez down the Gulf of Suez to Tawila Island, and finally arrived at the lovely Abu Tig Marina in El Gouna. The Med Red Race, part of the rally, commenced on April 14 from Herzliyah Marina in Tel Aviv to Port Said (135nm)

The boats were due to sail from Port Suez to Herzliya on 28th April, with the final party to be held on 2nd May, to coincide with Independence Day.

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