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By ship through the desert – passing the Suez Canal (July 4, 2017)

- This article was first published in the AQABA Research Cruise Blog -

All of us were excited about passing the Suez Canal. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience (except for those who also make the way back to Toulon, of course…). Seeing huge desert dunes to both sides of the ship was quite special! The air on the whole way down the canal was, indeed, desert air: extremely dry and hot (up to 42°C). The walls and military observation points on both banks are as well an extraordinary, although rather uncomfortable, sight.

Entering the Suez Canal in the early morning (Photo: E. Bourtsoukidis)

Welcome to the desert (Photo: E. Bourtsoukidis)

Bitter Lake (halfway down the Canal) and its cement factory: Probably the dirtiest air we have measured so far. (Photo: S. Dörner)

Heavy traffic through the Suez Canal (Photo: S. Dörner)

Sailing through Egypt and observing Egyptian towns from a short distance without really being in the country felt strangely detached. However, we got a taste of Egypt when two merchants boarded the ship together with the pilots and opened a small bazaar in the Wet Lab of Kommandor Iona for the whole day. They tried to sell souvenirs and cheap electronics – but I do not think they got very lucky.

On the banks of the Suez Canal. (Photo: S. Dörner)

Sunset for once not over the Sea!

Suez City (Photo: S. Dörner)

In Suez City, which is located at the end of the Canal, we had planned to anchor for two days in order to get through all formalities with the Egyptian authorities. Fortunately, the procedures just took two hours, and we could leave Suez, heading to the Red Sea, immediately. Our next destination is the port of Jeddah and The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. On the way there, we expect wind mainly from our back, which means that we will have to move back and forth in order not to sample our own exhaust fumes.


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