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Sailing the Suez Canal

EGYPT | Tuesday, 16 November 2021 | Views [39]

Looking astern, 3 tugs and a container ship

Looking astern, 3 tugs and a container ship

WE HAVE BEEN DAWDLING ALONG hardly making a ripple in the sea. Evidently there is a rigid schedule for transiting the Suez Canal and it makes no sense to arrive early. Something woke me in the early hours and when I looked outside I realized the lights of Port Said were moving—actually it was we who were moving ever-so-slowly as we entered the Suez Canal. We were the lead ship in the “convoy” although with the desert haze except for our tugboat escorts, we could see only one other ship following us. 

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The Suez Canal, for you geographically challenged Americans, runs 163 kilometers from Port Said on the Mediterranean to Port Suez on the Red Sea as it has since the end of our Civil War. It not only splits mainland Egypt from the Sinai, it separates Africa from Asia—obvious, I guess but something I never considered. 

nn

 

No permanent bridges span the Canal and unlike the Panama Canal, there are no locks. Road traffic crosses by ferry or on floating bridges that are motored across, either by tugboat or a series of outboards attached to the pontoons. Connie remembers crossing under the canal on our way from Cairo to Sharm al Sheik back in 2006 but I must have been asleep.

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nn

Creeping along at the pace of a good recreational runner, it took Virtuosa ten-hours to go the distance, affording plenty of time to see the sights. If there had been any to see. Except for Ismailia about the halfway mark there isn’t much but desert. 

mm

Connie, of course, saw some interesting birds but nothing to write home about. Even the storks have finished their migration from Africa to nest in the chimneys of Europe. 

 

 

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