Saturday, January 10, 2009
The Voyage East V – Suakim, Port Sudan
The last couple of posts in this series looked at the journey through the Suez Canal which after it opened in1869 reduced the journey time from Europe to China massively to around 20 days. Before I move on to the Indian Ocean leg of the voyage one place where many ships (but by no means all) stopped briefly was Suakim (or Sawakin), or Port Sudan – seen opposite in the late nineteenth century.
This was a break after the Canal and also allowed for side trips to Khartoum. Port Sudan was founded by the British in 1909 as the terminus of a rail line linking the Red Sea to the River Nile and as a new modern port to replace Suakim. Ships stopping at Suakim and then later at Port Sudan didn’t stay long – Khartoum excursions aside there was little to do in Port Sudan – no really good hotels – though all the houses were startling built of white coral (see the house of long term foreign resident Mr. Jack Wylde, of the firm of Wylde, Beyts & Co below).
Before the British upped Suakim’s status somewhat as a Port and with the railway it clearly was a bit dull. The indomitable English woman traveler Ernestine Sartorius mentions it in her 1886 book Three months in the Soudan: “At last, at about twelve noon, we began to get into the opening of the port of Suakim. The town lies so low that until the vessel turns in, nothing is seen of it. It has by no means a striking appearance, and the only good thing about the harbour is its safety, when once you are in. The mouth of it is very narrow, and is closed in by the land on one side and a deep, heavy bank of coral on the other.”
The Voyage East III - Alexandria
The Voyage East IV - Through the Canal
The Voyage East VI - Resupply at Aden
The Voyage East VII - Gibraltar
The Voyage East VIII - Suez- You Rather Hoped Not