Our transit day was scheduled for the 31st March, however, one can’t just ‘turn up’ and expect to get a slot for the northbound convoy. It is necessary to ‘register’ with the Canal authority and a vessel has to do this the day before, the cut-off being that it has to be done before 11 p.m.
To register, one has to cross a line of latitude approximately 15 miles from the Canal itself. Having done so and provided the vessel’s information, one is then allotted a numbered anchorage which one has to go to, ours being E13.
Having anchored, a plethora of boats then come alongside, ship’s agent, Inspectors, Immigration, Customs; you name it, we get it. Strangely, the first boat to appear contained men wanting to buy scrap metal….Egypt never changes.
I thought, naively as it turns out, that we would stay at the anchorage until the wee hours and then join our convoy. Not so, we were asked to move to another anchorage to make space for several massive container ships, which, having registered, now wanted their anchorage for the night. Having moved, we managed 3½ hours sleep before it was time to weigh anchor again and prepare to join the convoy of 23 ships; we were going to be the 3rd in line, following a car-carrier and the old ‘Nieuw Amsterdam’, aka the ‘Thompson Celebration’
The time-lapse is 3 minutes, the actual transit took 11 hours, however you get an idea of what it entails. I actually spent 15 ½ hours on the Bridge; from weighing anchor at 0300 to leaving the buoyed channel, 15 miles north of Port Said. One averages around 9 knots, ( 9 mph/14 kph) through the transit.
The pilots, (we had 3 in total; 1 from the anchorage to Suez, then 1 from Suez to Ismailia and finally 1 from Ismailia to Port Said), all left it to us to conn her all the way through, the officers enjoyed themselves immensely.
You will see part of the time-lapse where we appear to be heading towards the side of the canal; this is because, with the high wind, we ‘crabbed’ sideways down sections of the Canal and allowance has to be made for it.
I’ll leave you with the video and photographs; tomorrow, (Sunday), we arrive in Rhodes, Greece.