The Great Southern Route : 2010 - 2011
CAPTAIN'S LOG SUEZ CANAL 038 | GSR To ensure that the pilot boat skippers don't treat you like a container ship and bump and scrape the topsides, a clear signal from the deck that plenty of Marlboros await as a reward for more finesse is an absolute necessity. However, even after the passing of two or three cartons, there was still the endless request for more. We relented and sent over the Marlboros as they were far cheaper than the inevitable repairs to the topsides if we hadn't. So our second pilot arrived and whilst all those first issues with shoes and smoking didn't raise themselves again, he did ask to see his cabin. Hmmm where does he think that is? A quick Steaming down the canal presents nothing too demanding navigation wise, and the pilot's only instruction is to either speed up or slow down to ensure that the southbound convoy gets to the various check points at exactly the right time. In fact, our only entertainment was the hourly praying that our pilot did on the floor of the bridge. The pilot exchange takes place at the halfway point in Ishmailia, where timber pilot vessels do the changeover whilst underway. As the timing was a bit early, our first pilot left even before the second arrived as I think maybe that he couldn't cope with our Australian / British bridge humour any longer..! We did manage to visit the town which was a good idea and so we took the car ferry that crosses back and forth from Port Fouad to Port Said. The town was obviously not a touristy one so was pretty interesting and definitely very friendly locals; well worth a look. The pilot and the required two mooring men arrived a short time before departure and after negotiating that the pilot's footwear had to come off whilst inside (just like in a Moslem Mosque) and that he could not put his feet up on the chart table nor smoke his endless supply of Marlboro Reds inside the bridge, we let go lines and got into position for our transit of the Suez Canal. The two cheery mooring men set up camp on the aft deck. I am told that some of these guys are also tourist trinket salesman and setup a bazaar, but these guys were happy to sleep and also smoke Marlboros. We were the lead vessel of the convoy out of Port Said until the junction where the larger Suez sized tankers joined the convoy and remained the lead vessels through to Port Suez. The transit speed is mostly around 8 knots and as such, pretty slow going. The canal itself isn't very much to see with its bland landscape of sand banks either side which are constantly being dredged to keep the minium depth. The few sights to see on the transit is the evidence of the Six Day War which was apparent in a few locations with military debris sitting on the desert's edge. The impressive Mubarak Peace Bridge joining the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt was also interesting.
2008 - 2009
2013 - 2014