They emerged just as dawn broke, bearing down at high speed in Navy corvettes and Zodiac inflatable boats on the flotilla of ships.
The terrifying moments as Israeli commandos intercepted the convoy carrying aid to Gaza, firing tasers and stun grenades, were graphically retold yesterday by the first Irish activist to be deported following Monday's dawn raid.
“I was really one of the lucky ones. I am one of the survivors,” Shane Dillon (36) said, joking he was looking forward to relaxing with a pint of Guinness after his ordeal.
Mr Dillon said that while his family were delighted that he had returned safely, he would have no hesitation of repeating the Gaza mission “again and again and again”.
First of the Irish deportees to arrive home, Mr Dillon, who had been on Challenger 1, one of the six-vessel flotilla, told how his ship tried to break away from the convoy as commandos attacked the MV Mavi Marmara where up to 10 activists were killed.
Mr Dillon said he did not see any weapons being used and any of the so-called weapons identified by the Israelis were typical equipment to be found on a ship, such as knives from the galley and a sledgehammer which was quite common on a merchant ship.