Valleau Israel Pilgrimage Updated

Dear Family and  Friends,


Well, our cruising adventure on Vesper to Israel 🇮🇱 concluded in Cyprus 🇨🇾 (just 150 nautical miles short of Haifa) with a firm “not opening yet,” despite every effort. 


We expect, God-willing, to re-enter Malta’s Vittoriosa Harbor in about 7 hours and hop a plane back to base camp Colorado on August 15.


We departed Malta 🇲🇹 on April 1, 2021. Our odyssey included a voyage to Montenegro 🇲🇪 to await the opening of Greece. We visited Croatia briefly by rental car. 


We entered Greece 🇬🇷  on May 24 and continued touring through the Péloponnèses with Nordhavn friends.


 Shortly after a visit to Santorini we were proud to raise our green and white burgee with 20,000 nm on it! 


Next we visited Patmos, (Saint John wrote the Revelation here) Kos, (the first ‘wellness center’ – Asklepieion) Rhodes, (Knights of St  John) Kastellorizo (the Greek island furthest East, almost finger- touching Turkey, and, by far, our favorite!) and finally, Cyprus. We arrived in Cyprus June 28 expecting Israel to open on July 1. 


What was meant to be a pilgrimage to Israel became our own Greek oddessey; almost 3000 nm, 111 SUNNY days, an average of 25 nm daily, 25 island stops, not to mention touching 3 countries besides Malta, – an unforgettable experience.

 
It has been an extremely hot summer, notably free of tourists, now turned into one of destruction by fires all over Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, as elsewhere. Our parting view of our last two ports in Greece; Methoni, and Zakynthos, was a bilious yellow smog overhead and the pungent smell of smoke from very far away. It saddens our hearts because of the losses to some of the most endearing, loving, and spiritual people we have ever met. 


Yes, we faced disappointment at not reaching our goal, but we are convinced God’s plan did not include our arrival in Jerusalem this year. We may even have to await the New Jerusalem!  Perhaps He knows how very fatigued and, simultaneously, how very fulfilled we are at this point. He gave us the vacation of vacations – time to spend in Greek (turquoise) waters. Time to make the journey more important than the destination. Time to get to know places and people of an ancient culture, and time to make new friends we shall never forget. Nikoletta, Nikos, Yannis, Nikos, Yannis, (really), Malva gallery family Manolis, Mina, Giorgos, Fr. Eamon Kelly and so many more! 


Our second favorite place after Kastellorizo  is Monemvasia, a giant rock on a homonymous (new word for me) peninsula jutting into the sea. It is often called the “Gibraltar of the East.” There we hiked over pebbles and stones to Hagia Sophia  on top, in 90 degree heat. 🥵 If you go to ‘Malva Gallery’ on Instagram you will see a silk screen of Saint Leontius, Patron Saint of Monemvasia hanging on the wall in Vesper’s pilot house. 


Bob and I love the independence of running the Vesper solo, but we were quite happy by the time we returned to Rhodes on July 22 (our 54th anniversary) to welcome a friend on board as an extra hand. 


So, Malta 🇲🇹 is now only about 3 hours away (I have not been writing all this time 😉) and we expect a celebration in Vittoriosa – not for our return of course, but a celebration of their Patron Saint Lawrence who was martyred in 258 (grilled to death 😩) for defying  the Roman Emperor Valerian. After executing Pope Sixtus II, Valerian promised Lawrence (then Archdeacon of Rome) his freedom in exchange for “the treasures of the church.” St. Lawrence dutiful presented the poor, the old, the beggars, and the sick people of Rome. Amen. 
There will be fireworks, cannon,  flags and bells, lots of bells, ringing from the almost twin churches that face each other with Vesper’s berth in between. We are so blessed. Malta is a kind of home away from home because Vesper (Esperinos in Greek) and all her memories have a  berth here and in our hearts. 


Oh, we had our trying times; mechanical (on a remote island the boom that raises and lowers tenders popped a hose spewing hydraulic fluid – twice,) technical (our GPS and satellite compasses malfunctioned, occasionally taking us off course, or gyrating in a circle ⭕️  called “Crazy Ivan,”) natural (on Ikaria in a safe harbor to avoid the famous “meltemi winds” of Greece the winds swept down the protective rocks and ripped our Bimini supports right out of the fiberglass!) and emotional – (tears shed, by me.)


In all this very good and ohmigosh🤭 we were 100% protected and provided for and we give thanks to our God for the prayers 🙏 and thoughts of so many of you.  


Well, we arrived safely! God again kissed the wind and waves as we traveled from Sicily through the Malta Straits. 


And thank you for indulging me by reading this epistle. We are so grateful to God for richly rewarding and safe travels over the seas He made. And we are so happy to be coming home… to you. 🇺🇸 


With love,

Kathy and Bob

Vesper

Malta 🇲🇹 

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