Our route to the Suez required passing by Somalia’s infestation of pirates. The Quest hired a private British patrol boat to accompany us for two full days. After arriving at the Red Sea the route was relatively safe from there on. The Suez Canal is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and is 101 miles (163 km) in length. Completed in 1869, it connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Suez. It shortened shipping lanes from east to west by thousands of miles. The Quest entered the south end of the canal shortly after dawn and spent a full day making the journey north to the Mediterranean Sea, headed to port in Alexandria, Egypt. This day-long journey is a vivid introduction to living in a desert environment. Fresh water irrigation provides the primary relief from the barren dunes which predominate much of the landscape. The West side of the canal featured a partly green view from fresh water irrigation, while the East side was essentially a barren wasteland.