Sunday, January 24, 2010

Circumnavigating the Sea Of Galilee




Impressive title, makes one think of a major expedition, spending days at sea going round some Island, like Australia for example. Certain words evoke emotions,link us to our own experiences and can manipulate the gullible.


Well here in little Israel we don`t have huge masses of water like the Great lakes, but the historical and religious impact is just as large. Mention the of Sea of Galilee and images of Jesus come to mind , here was the beginnings of Christianity, this is where it all happened, the place of miracles.Amazing how such a small place can have such a large impact.

The Sea, or lake is only about 21 Km [13 miles] long and 13Km [8 miles wide]. The circumference is about 53Km [33miles] and is 209m below sea level.It is the largest freshwater lake in Israel getting most of its water from the Jordan river in the north and feeds the Jordan river in the south.Due to the recent lack of rain the lake is shrinking, making the circumference shorter.


This last weekend 24 keen kayakers from our club, Optimist, went on an expedition to paddle round the lake. We started at Ginnosar on Friday morning and made our way north, paddling our heavily laden kayaks filled with provisions to supply twice that amount of people with 3 full meals a day for a few days. This made stops along the shore to refuel imperative. Actually these rest and refueling stops are what makes the trip interesting.

As soon as we get aground out come the gas cookers, coffee and tea are almost instantly available and an amazing amount of goodies appear on a makeshift picnic table.This can include slices of rare roast beef, a variety of cheeses, different alcoholic beverages, salads and numerous types of bread, as well as fruit and cakes.

We usually eat in a haphazard manner, not starting with an apertiser and then first second and third courses, but grabbing whatever comes to hand when offered. It may be that you begin with a pickled cucumber, then have a piece of cheese followed by some nuts and raisins, maybe some tuna or egg salad next and so on until its time to pack up and go looking for the next place to stop and eat again. In between eating we paddle along the shores which at this time of year are nice and green.

The hills of the Galilee on the west and the Golan Heights to the east are beautiful in the early morning light and the late evening.This time we had good weather, sunshine, blue skies warm water, the only distraction was the fishermen on the shores who dont like it when we paddle too close to their lines.They use us as an excuse as to why they didn`t catch any fish .
We tried to paddle up the Jordan river but the current was too strong and so we only went a little way. Its difficult to paddle upstream, you can struggle for an hour and then you turn back and get to your starting point in 5 minutes.
Arriving at Kibbutz Ein Gev at sunset we dragged the kayaks up the shore and headed to our rooms and a great Friday night dinner. That`s a luxury on a circumnavigation, hot showers, nice soft warm beds and a good breakfast before setting off for the second days paddle.
Needless to say the second day was a repeat of the first and the trip was completed by about 4 pm on Saturday.
Kayaks were packed on cars and in no time at all we had dispersed leaving no trace of our presence on the shores or on the water.

Circumnavigation is a lot of fun if you are well prepared.
We all had a great trip and cant wait till next year to do it again.
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