Malta to Suez Canal

Dany II to the Philippines
John Ridsdel
Thu 23 Jul 2009 18:42



After an enjoyable stay in Malta, we set sail for Port Said, departing in breezy NW winds.  So far we’ve seen very little sea life in this end of the Med., unlike the beginning of out trip, when we saw lots of whales, dolphins & birds…we are however, getting lots of freighter traffic which keeps us busy 24hrs/d making sure we stay out of their way. Just south of Crete, winds picked up to 40knts., giving us lumpy wet conditions for several hours, during which the autopilot decided it had had enough, & quit steering…hand steering at night in these conditions was a challenge…we were happy when the winds dropped back down to a mere 20knts., & the auto pilot decided it would steer again…as we got closer to Port Said, we actually had less traffic than we had expected, making our arrival easy…we were met just outside the port by a canal pilot who took us into the YC in Port Fouad which is just across the channel from Port Said…the facilities at the “marina”(?) are marginal & the smell is awesome…we’ll try to get out of here as soon as possible!…It’s a culture shock coming from Spain & Italy to a strict Muslim country…the fashion has gone from bare minimalistic to a black “tent”!…there’s also a serious lack of community pride here…everything is deteriorating & the garbage in the streets is awesome…with a bit of imagination, you can see how the cities must have looked during the era when the French were here building the canal…the contrast between the street side & the interiors of offices & homes is dramatic!…we were taken to the office of the canal agent & it was like walking into a different world…the money they extort from us yachties & ships is obviously been spent keeping up their opulent offices…the canal is a huge source of income for Egypt…they charge huge prices for almost nothing, unlike the Panama Canal or the Wellen Canal which have huge operating costs just maintaining the locks…here it’s nothing but a straight ditch…we are also required to take a pilot, who even tho they are paid by the company, demand a tip as well…the transit is broken up into 2 legs, which means we have to pay 2 pilots…our first pilot was very nice all day, until we arrived in Ismailia & he demanded more than the usual tip…as westerners, we’re just not used to these kinds of confrontations & it made us feel very uncomfortable…Ismailia is slightly less  decrepit than P. Said & Fouad, but just marginally…this was the main city for the French company while building the canal & some of the old villas & wide tree lined streets remain…the YC here is much better tho & is a good safe place to leave the boat to do some inland travel…we took the opportunity to do a 1 day trip to Cairo & the pyramids in Giza…thru friends recommendations, we hired a taxi driver named Mohammed who turned out to be great value…1 day was probably not enough, but we managed to see both the pyramids & the Egyptian Museum…serious sensory overload, but we had a great day…getting back to Dany II in the evening was a pleasant “oasis”.  Now for the next ½ of the canal…our pilot is due to arrive at 5am, which will make our arrival in Port Suez early in the afternoon.

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