We arrived at our meeting point at 2am this morning and were allowed to join the tail end of the 1st convoy going south. Daily there are 2 south bound and 1 north bound convoys. Once the 1st convoy reaches a point, in our case it’s Great Bitter Lake, (the other anchor spot is Al Ballah) because its salt water here, we anchor and wait for the north bound convoy to pass thru then we continue our way. The total journey takes approximately 14 hours start to finish. Each convoy consists of approximately 60 ships. Each ship is charged according to size purpose and weight. The average transit fee is in the neighbourhood of 210,000US$.
The Suez Canal is 101 miles or 163 kilometres long. It’s a maritime canal (no private yacht or sailing vessels allowed) in Egypt between Suez on the Red Sea and Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea. The Suez Canal allows ships to travel from the Mediterranean through the Suez thereby saving up to 2+ weeks from going around the bottom or Horn of Africa.
Egypt now has total control of the Canal and it is very heavily guarded as it’s the most precious way to carry cargo. We are buzzed by flying helicopters and approximately every 200 meters there are heavily armed soldier stations.
The Canal was the brainchild of Vicomte Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps (1805-1894) a French Diplomat who carried and supervised construction of the Suez Canal. The Canal does not have locks (like the Panama Canal) as there is no sea level and no hills to climb. Because of the canal permits ships of up to 16 metres draft to pass many super tankers offload part of their cargo onto a canal owned boat and reload at the other end of the canal. The canal takes approximately 14% of the world’s shipping and is the main source of income for Egypt at somewhere in the 3 billion dollar per year.