Free Gaza – Crete to Cyprus August 2008
Leaving Sitia Port in Crete we finally confronted the test of the boats that would include a minimum of 20 hours straight in the open sea. But the departure from Crete was picture perfect; conditions to the next port on the island of Megisti were magical, mostly glassy seas and picturesque Greek Islands along the way. Megisti had a port that was nothing short of intoxicating, made famous in the1991 Oscar-winning movie Mediterraneo.
While only in Megisti for less then 24 hours I was able to run our Zodiac after seeing that the island had some impressive sea caves. Myself, Peter and Courtney set out on an impromptu trip around the island. The scenery was quintessential Greece, absolutely spellbinding. Peter was so enthusiastic he jumped into the turquoise blue water and forgot the mobile phone in his pocket. Didn’t matter, it was worth it. It was sad to leave this place, I would love to return.
The journey from Megisti to Cyprus was a bit rocky for some but overall we once again had favourable weather. Time at sea is tiring however, especially if you are on watch behind the wheel. Rocking and rolling, standing and having to keep very attentive in darkness and light, life at sea is hard and I have much respect for those who choose such a life. And the sea is nothing to be fooled with, this was one thing underestimated by the organizers of Free Gaza in my opinion. The plan as a whole was brilliant, that is why I joined. But understanding of a Captains role was somewhat absent. This is a small criticism given all the praise I have for them, but I say it for those who may consider a similar action involving sea travel. Get yourself a Captains opinion and expertise before you make any inflexible plans involving sea travel.
Along the way I put the Hawaiian flag prominently under the Palestinian flag on the bow of the Free Gaza. Of course I was going to need to explain the Union Jack within a Hawaiian flag (Hawaii was a protectorate of the British, and the British so honourably did nothing when America stole Hawaii in 1893).
On the other end of the honour spectrum, we arrived at Larnaca Port in Cyprus to a most honourable Cypriot Port authority. It cannot be underestimated how much this government was under pressure by Israel and likely America to stop our journey. As far as any of us could tell they were having none of it, they helped us and provided security and escorted us to international waters when we left. Credit to the Cypriots, they have not forgotten their direct ties to the Palestinians.
We also arrived in Cyprus to a group of people who were weary for a different reason then sea travel, they were weary from waiting. We arrived in Cyprus on August 20, over two weeks later then our scheduled departure date. The whole group finally united and we prepared for the ultimate test of the mission, the journey from Cyprus to Gaza.