Suez Canal :: Battle Day

The Suez Canal.  Transiting the Canal is an almost indescribable experience. Preparations for the Canal Transit begin days before actually arriving in Port Said.  The atmosphere on the ship is resigned.  It feels like perparing to enter a battle.  Provisions are set aside, security points are reinforced, doors are locked, and things that can be stolen are hidden.  Schedules and timelines are established, paperwork is completed, affairs are put into order and then everything gets checked one last time.

The night before the transit I went to bed knowing I'd only get a few hours of sleep and that when I woke up all hell would be breaking loose.

We anchored around 0100 while waiting for our convoy to begin.  While at anchor we received food stores, water, and disposed of plastic garbage.  The boat arrived at 0300 so that we could heave anchor and be underway by 0530. 

The first of many challenges.  The stores crane was broken.  It wouldn't start. 

An hour of trouble shooting later and our transfers have been made.

Stage two.

Approach the canal.  The battle commences.

Boats come alongside honking their horn.  Arabic is being yelled.  Demands for cigarettes are being made.

The Pilot wouldn't board the vessel until the Pilot Boat had received two cartons of cigarettes.

Stage three.

The Officials arrive.  Peace talks commence.

The Agent wants paperwork with original stamps.  The Suez Canal Inspector wants a stowage plan.  The Electrician wants someone to heave up his projector lamp.  The Electrician is also very angry that he is not being given a stateroom while aboard the vessel and is demanding to leave.  Six cartons of cigarettes later everyone is happy.

Stage four.

The mooring boat and mooring boat crew arive.  Strategic Planning commences.

The mooring boat must be hoisted using the ships stores crane and lashed to the side of the vessel during the transit.  The vessel will eventually need to moor in the canal while waiting for the north bound convoy to clear.  The mooring boat will take our lines to the sides of the canal.  We now have Egyptians scurrying around the vessel and our Roving Security watch must be extra deligent to not allow them in the house.

Stage five.

The vessel must moor.  This requires lowering the mooring boat and sending them our lines.  There is no tug available so, this evolution must be extremely well controlled.  Once moored we must now raise the mooring boat back up.

Stage five point five.

Unmooring.  One of the lines gets burried on the drum.  We are unable to pay out slack as this line is now incredibly tight and on the verge of parting.  The Bosun and Myself run from the Bow to the Stern when our lines are safely aboard.  The Stern lines are heaved up quickly so that the prop is clear and the Captain uses the engine to alleviate strain on our burried line.  We are able to manually heave this line in since the winch is of no use.  No one was hurt and the line didn't part.

Stage six.

We are nearing the end of the canal.  The pilot disembarks, the mooring boat crew leaves.

Stage seven.

We need to pick up our security team as we exit the canal.  There is a net full of gear.  Again, our stores crane is broken and won't slew.  The security team boards the vessel and heaves all their lines by hand.  They are amazingly efficient.

Stage eight.

The vessel takes departure.  Sending departure messages takes about an hour.  The mileage while in the canal can be extremely convulated and some our voyage efficiency softward did not like our numbers.  This is NOT what you want to be doing at midnight thirty after a full day of battle.

Stage nine.

Bed time for four hours before waking up again for watch.


I did manage to take a few photos with my phone....


(also, I apologize but, this post was not proofread...)