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That Ship She Has Sailed

Abby Zimet

Photo Suez Canal via ABACAPRESS.COM

Good-byes are always tough. After almost a week of frenzied efforts by tugboat teams, salvage crews, and laughably tiny excavators, the Empire-State-Building-sized container ship Ever Given was freed Monday, having caused the world's largest and costliest traffic jam by getting stuck in the Suez Canal and delaying billions of dollars in global trade. Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority said the Ever Given was traveling from China to the Netherlands last Tuesday when a dust storm's strong winds and poor visibility caused the ship to run aground, leaving it diagonally wedged and blocking dozens of other ships on both sides. Last year, about 19,000 ships - more than 50 per day, representing 12% of the world's trade - passed through the canal, which provides the shortest maritime route between Asia and Europe by allowing ships to avoid going around the Horn of Africa. Crews were finally able to refloat the vessel thanks in part to a full moon's high tides, though a backlog of ships remains in the Canal.

While the Ever Given's dilemma posed real dangers - there was livestock aboard some stranded ships - a pandemic-weary world embraced the saga of the giant "beached whale" some dubbed "Boaty McStuckface" for its weirdness, comic relief, rich trove of metaphors and lessons in empathy: "You may have had a bad day, but was it an 'I got my ship stuck in the Suez Canal bad day?'",  never mind all the oil and gas tankers stopped in their foul tracks. For Twitter users hunkered deep into their homes and uncertainty, the ridiculous Ever Given was us - our stuck-ness, our procrastination, our angst, and an avalanche of memes - "Got stuck in the Suez Canal and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" - followed. When she was finally freed, many were ambivalent, and the cries went up: We all needed that bonkers break, she was just chilling, she shouldn't get unstuck before we do, long live the stuck ship, and - change is hard - "Put it back." "Put the boat back please god I just spent all my stimulus money to kickstart my stuck boat suez canal themed merch and now it wouldn't make sense to sell it please for the love of god put it back," wailed one bereft soul. And, "They grow up so fast."

Close enough. #SuezBLOCKED #SuezCanal #Evergreen #Evergiven

— Guy With The Digger At Suez Canal (@SuezDiggerGuy) March 26, 2021

The former traffic reporter in me couldn’t resist giving you a Suez Canal traffic update...

— Jon Hansen (@JonHansenTV)

March 26, 2021


The Ever Given, still stuck

Two guys and a (teeny) dozer

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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