Personal disclosure: Twenty-plus years ago I had the opportunity to take a ship on the Red Sea from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Port Suez, about 700 miles. All the daylight hours of this summer 60-hour voyage were a fantastic platform to watch other traffic and look down from the railing beside the bridge. From 50-feet up, I recall seeing the flying fish frightened by our bow wave and swarming sharks at various depths in the clear water. I would not have lasted long had I gone in. It was a simpler time, and the Egyptian passengers (99% of the passengers; there was one Sudanese family, and one American [me], which I know because customs cleared me last.) were most hospitable. Oh, for a return to these friendlier times.


In the green shirt, that’s a very young tugster. As we headed into Port Suez, the southern end of the Canal, we steamed past a cluster of ships waiting for traffic to be northbound. Then, traffic flowed six hours south, followed by six hours north, and so on.



Here is a southbound tanker, in ballast. Unlike the Panama or Erie, the Suez has no locks, so draft is the limiting factor. Suezmax designates maximum draft that can safely traverse; any vessels of greater draft would be Capesize.

Hmm… my pre-digital photos are quite grainy. I wonder where the closest port to accommodate Capesize vessels is.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, back in 1985.