Suez Canal pilots: thank god we had been primed about these ungrateful, scheming, lying b@stards.
Although our pilot did actually steer our boat successfully in to Ismalia bay, as well as provide some useful material for a possible podcast, it’s important to bear in mind our pilot’s services had already been paid for through our rip-off transit fees in Port Said. Therefore the baksheesh one was expected to offer him at the end of the trip was just an extra present. A little thank you. Hell, we were not even obliged to feed or water him, but Liz cooked up a wonderful lunch in which he indulged, and we ensured he had plenty of fresh coffee and Coke.
Our pilot thanked us by spilling his third can of coke all over our cockpit cushion, wearing down the battery and breaking the speaker of our handheld VHF by turning up the volume to maximum and shouting at all the other pilots throughout the journey. The only consolation, if it is a consolation, was that ‘Roam II’ had to endure the behaviour of a teenager with their pilot, who we watched navigate ‘Roam II’ all over the canal like a drunk driver. “He was like a spoiled kid” commented Terry afterward.
Having learned that our pilot had five daughters Liz spent a bit of effort packing up a nice little parcel of toiletries, a smart, unworn t-shirt of mine and $20, which was $10 more than all the other boats had given their pilots. After I parked the boat and showed my pilot the simple task of making off a line round a cleat we presented him with his present. He ripped open the parcel, threw aside the t-shirt, scattered the other goods across the deck and tore open the envelope containing the money. The next half an hour was spent listening to this whinging, ungrateful shit complain about his present. Of course what I should have done was snatched back the $20 and asked him if he wanted any money at all. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing.
If the Suez Port Authority is reading this you should be ashamed at allowing this kind of behaviour to go on. Also we would like to know why the cost of staying in your marinas has jumped from $9 per night to $21 in the space of six months without warning!
Note to other private boat owners: whilst the Egyptian public seem happy to accommodate our presence in their country the authorities and their employed pilots continue to take the mick. Shame on them!