A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 750 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06.

The Red Sea, from Suez to its mouth extends 1800 miles in length; the coast running all the way from N.W. to S.E.[248] This gulf is 200 miles broad, and in some places more.  In its whole length it is full of banks, shoals, and shelves, towards the land on both sides, so that it cannot be navigated by night, except in the middle.  These obstructions are so intricately disposed that the channels can only be discovered by the eye, nor can the proper course be taken except by means of an experienced pilot standing constantly on the prow, and calling out starboard or larboard[249] according to circumstances.  Owing to this, the return voyage does not admit of being described so accurately as the outward bound.  There are two distinct kinds of pilots for this sea; the one being acquainted with the middle of the gulf, which is the passage outwards; and the others, called Rubani, are for ships returning from the ocean, and navigating within the shoals.  These are such excellent swimmers, that in many places where they cannot cast anchor on account of foul ground, they will swim under water and fix the gallies within the shoals, and will often even fasten the prows under water, according to the nature of the place[250].

[Footnote 248:  From Suez to the Straits of Bab-al-Mandub, the direct distance is about 1590 statute English miles, or 1200 geographical miles, 60 to the degree.  From the Straits to Cape Guardafu is about 433 English miles farther, or 375 geographical:  Making in all 1825 of the former and 1575 of the latter.  The direction is S.S.E.—­E.]

[Footnote 249:  In the original Italian, Orza and Poggia, being the names of the ropes at the yard-arms which are hauled when these words are pronounced.—­Astl.  I. 101. b.]

[Footnote 250:  The expression in the text is not very obvious, but seems to indicate that these Rubani are such excellent divers as to be able to fasten ropes or hausers to the rocks below water.—­E.]

On the 28th. of November 1539, the Christians belonging to the Venetian gallies left Suez, and arrived at Cairo on the 1st of December, where they were lodged in the same house that they had formerly occupied.  Each of them was allowed half a maidan daily for subsistence, which is equal to about twopence of Venice.  They here suffered great affliction and fatigue, as whatever laborious work was to be performed was devolved upon them.  Clearing out the water-cisterns, levelling hills, putting gardens in order, new buildings, and such like, all fell to their share.  On the 25th of March 1540, many of the Christians went from Cairo with a guard of Turks to a hill or mount two miles from the Nile, which seemed to have been a burying-place like the Campo Santo, where every year, on the Friday before our Lady of August[251], a vast number of people assemble to see dead bodies rise out of the ground.  This resurrection begins

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