I didn't even notice that!
My first thought is that they wouldn't have taken the Canadian Northwest Passage as at the time it was a multi-year trip, and had only been done once before by ship. Amundsen did it in a ship in three years (1903 - 1906), and it wasn’t sailed again until Larsen did it in two years (1940 - 1942). If they found a ice-free passage it might have been quicker, but I don’t think they would have considered it.
But, I must also consider the awesome power of JCVD. Could he pull the boat over the ice? In his own movie, I think yes. It took Rasmussen 16 months to dog sled from the Atlantic to the Pacific during the Fifth Thule Expedition, though. So, no disrespect to JCVD, but I don't think he could pull a ship across the Arctic quickly enough for them to make the contest.
You're right! I dismissed the idea that they went around the African cape because the boat looks so tiny and the ocean there is so dangerous. And I didn't look at the cost. But having looked at the figures, I don't think they could have afforded it.
In 1925 the average cost to get through the Suez Canal was $1.4 per tonne. I based this on the figures in Panama and Suez Canals: General Comparative Statistics, which has $38,282,901 gross tolls for 1925 from 26,109,882 net tonnes. The Suez tolls were based on the net tonnage of a ship, so not counting engines and crew areas. I spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out how much the ship would hold (I am not a crazy person, I am on sick leave from work and bored out of my mind), and how much it would weight and eventually came to 92,000 tonnes.
92,000 tonnes at $1.4 dollars per tonne is $128,800. Tommy guns, which is what I'm guessing they were smuggling, were about $200 a piece. If they had 1,000 on board (which seems a high number given what we see of how they're packed) that only comes to $200,000 earned - out of which they had to pay all expenses. There's no way they could have afford the canal and must have gone around the Cape of Good Hope.
Adding in the 30 days to my original estimate brings it up to 3 months, and maybe even longer if they encountered bad weather.
This isn't a correction at all! It's a confirmation of what Paul was saying. He was right all along. I should never have doubted!