Suez Canal, Egypt 2008
Suez Canal Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
I was working on an old steam ship, a tramp steamer, in 2008. We passed thru the Suez Canal 3 times in 2008 shipping food for the UN to the Middle East and Africa. We loaded the bags of grain and large cans of cooking oil in Lake Charles, Louisiana and sailed through the Gulf of Mexico around Florida then across the Atlantic into the Mediterranean Sea. We traveled eastwards in the Med to amost the east end then south into the Suez Canal. We first had to anchor in Port Sa'id and wait for our reserved time. Once our ship's reserved time arrived we entered the canal in a long convoy. We traveled at a slow speed, about 8 miles per hour, and it took about 20 hours to pass through with stopping a couple of times in the big lake near the middle.
The present day canal was started in 1859 and completed in 1869 and has operated continuously since with a few years exception during the Egypt-Israel wars. Anyone who is interested in the history of the canal can get a quick thumbnail sketch of it's history on Wikipedia. It seems the present day canal was dug over ancient canal work and there is some evidence that not only was this canal begun hundreds of years ago but also a canal to connect the Red Sea to the Nile river existed or was started.
The big advantage of this canal is the time and fuel saved when shipping cargo from Europe and points west to the Middle and Far East. This canal prevents ships from having to go around the southern tip of Africa, a much longer journey. Todays ships use an unimaginable amount of fuel. For eample our ship had used more fuel than budgeted because we had to dodge Hurrican Gustov in the Gulf of Mexico and another hurricane, I forgot the name, headed for the east coast of the US a week later. So we stopped in Gabraltar and took on just enough fuel to reach Mozambique and the cost was a little over $600,000.00 - no good mpg here!
The Suez Canal is just a huge ditch dug in the desert. It is flat with no locks and is one lane with the exception of a huge lake near the middle.
For me this trip was very educational and enjoyable. Visiting historical sites is one of my passions and this certainly is an ancient site with a colorful recent history. I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in historical sites.
Look at the map that is on the same page with this journal. By clicking several times on the minus button, you can get an overall view of the Suez Canal.