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Post As the "Ever Given" Saga Continues, Memories of Crossing the Suez
Created by John Eipper on 03/26/21 9:14 AM

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As the "Ever Given" Saga Continues, Memories of Crossing the Suez (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 03/26/21 9:14 am)

The official version, which possibly is true, is that strong winds pushed the ship aground. The Ever Given is longer than the Suez Canal is wide, therefore the ship is blocking the canal, being practically aground both on the bow on one side of the canal and the stern on the opposite side. As far as I can see from the photos, the stern has been freed but the bow is still aground.

These container ships are massive.  Their large cargo on deck acts like a giant sail.  They become very vulnerable if they catch a strong wind on their transverse beam. Maybe and very theoretically from sitting at one's desk in a safe place, we may tentatively think of some immediate action, both on the rudder to counteract against the turning force, united with a full ahead of the engine for a while.  This possibly could have stopped the turning, but you cannot properly judge if you were not there at the time.

Never judge if you were not on the spot, is an old rule among seafarers.

We may even say that if the weather forecast was expecting strong transverse winds, the Canal Authority should not have given the green light to the crossing of the Canal by such a huge ship, with her giant "sail" of containers.

Crossing the Suez is a problem for all kinds of ships, as you should arrive within the required draft limitations but at the same time you should arrive with the maximum possible cargo, therefore until you have arrived just outside the Canal and have had a look at the actual draft and see that your calculations were correct, you are always very nervous.

In the good old days when crossing the canal, Egyptian vendors would come on board selling anything from old magazines (if you have not read them they are new was their pitch), tourist stuff like Pyramids, Sphinxes, carpets, etc. One vendor was a "Magician" who was able to extract a baby chick from your shirt, then you had to buy the chicks. Once the pumpman bought two.  One, unfortunately, died having eaten some anti-cockroach poison but the other became the favorite of all crew, the chick became a wonderful rooster who was sleeping in the cabin of the pumpman and was resting on his knees when he was eating, he knew all the times for work or eating or coffee breaks. Fantastic when the pumpman debarked the rooster went with him and had a fantastic long life in a nice yard.  Someone later told me that he missed life at sea...

Never did a vendor try to steal anything on board.  On the contrary, the Egyptians would sometimes even sell their wares on credit.

Once a Second Mate got something without paying but had to return with another ship in the Suez Canal.  The same vendor recognized him even if he tried not to pass unnoticed. The Egyptian asked for his money and at first, the Second Mate tried not to remember. The Egyptian said, "You are very stupid and also the owner knows this, since you have been crossing through the Canal for a long time, always as the Second Mate and never promoted." The guy paid.

JE comments: Aye aye, Captain! For those wondering why the Goodship WAIS didn't serve its usual breakfast fare at Six Bells, I am sorry to report that our website was down. Possibly it was blocked by the Ever Given...? 

Fortunately I didn't have to call in tugboats, cranes, and earthmoving behemoths.  A simple e-mail to our IT Fixer, Roman Zhovtulya in Cupertino, did the job. Ahoy, Roman, and thank you!

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