Upon arrival at the meeting place, we were told that it wasn’t going to be possible to board the boat as a storm the previous night had damaged the boarding platform and it wasn’t possible to get onto the boat. We were so disappointed. The lady Joanne (from Masachussets who, forty-four years before while sleeping on a boat sailing on the Sea of Galilee had been kissed and who had thus stayed in Israel with the man who had kissed her and was then joined by her sister, Linda, who could not bear to be apart from her and who had been so helpful the night before in putting us in contact with Joanne) apologised and said she would try to get us on a boat with a larger group. This, it seemed, was not possible. With determination she announced we were really important people and it was really important that we made this sailing (as my companions had never been to the Galilee before) and thus we were marched (kindly) towards another boat (that usually took thirty-plus) people and were invited to get on board. We were the only people on board and were even outnumbered by the crew! We were charged the same price as quoted and sailed in blissful sunshine and calm waters from Nof Ginosaur out into the Lake and up towards Tabgha and Mensa Christi. How lucky are we!
Usually Pilgrimage Groups have the flag of their home country hoisted as well as their National Anthem played. I’m afraid I loathe this jingoistic approach in this special place and so always refuse it. Thankfully it wasn’t offered on this occasion, although music was. I always refuse this too (my one and only experience of this on a sailing is a recording of Elvis singing Amazing Grace and the like. The sound of the water lapping is so much more lovely – apologies to Elvis for thinking this). We enjoyed the quiet and calm of the sailing on an idyllic morning, and took up the offer of one of the crew giving us a demonstration of how fishermen in the time of Christ would have cast their nets. Alas he caught nothing… and so, in good Gospel fashion, he cast the net on the other side. I had already indicated to my companions that they should pray hard and that, if nothing was caught, it would be their fault! We ‘caught’ one three inch blade of some sort of grass… not even enough to make a salad the crew member observed!
In the conversation that followed, our ‘fisherman’ commented that he sometimes had groups dancing on the boat so I, in typical ‘in the moment’ fashion said, “Come on then!” And so he did, and so did we. Conjure up the image then of three British pilgrims dancing on the deck at the prow end of a boat designed for thirty-plus passengers with a Jewish sailor to Hevenu Shalom Alechem. It was absolutely priceless and absolutely fun. I could never have predicted that our Sunday morning sail on the Sea of Galilee would close in such a fashion. Brilliant!