16 May 2010

Suez Canal

The last miles before the Suez Canal we sail along the impressive hills of the Sinai peninsula. Near the coast there are many oil platforms and oil-rigs with activity of tugs and tankers. In Suez we enter the anchorage for yachts to do paperwork (and payment) for the passage through the Canal. We get a 'pilot' on board and the first part of the passage is a bit disappointing for us: we sail along erected sand dunes where we see every few km's pontoon bridges on the shore ready to launch in case of war to transport men and material to the Sinai side. At the end of the first day we reach the 'marina' of Ismailia, an obligatory stop-over for the yachts. Ismailia turns out to be a nice place and we stay a few days to visit Cairo and the pyramids of Giza.

The second part of the passage offers more variation on the shore. Our 'pilot' tells us there are seven checkpoints of the Canal authorities where they have to report to during the trip. And again we see lots of military observation posts. But also some small towns and several ferryboats to carry people and cars to the other side of the Canal. Most impressive are the big container ships and tankers that either come towards us or overtake us. The Suez Canal is too small for the big ships to pass each other, so there is a strict scheme for the ocean-going trade to leave in convoys. The north- and southbound convoys daily pass each other on the Great Bitter Lake or via a side channel.

Port Said at the end of the Canal is a big and busy city where many boats are moored and tugs and ferryboats speed through the harbour. Once away from the bustle and the shipping lanes the Red Sea and Egypt are behind us and under sail again we see the sun set into the Mediterranean.

Slideshow Suez