I Figured Out How to Free the Stuck Ship in the Suez Canal

I Figured Out How to Free the Stuck Ship in the Suez Canal

samuel mohsen/picture alliance via getty images

as someone who's gotten stuck plenty of times, both at land and sea, i've taken particular interest in the case of the ever given, a.k.a. the ship stuck in the suez canal. because the situation there involves elements of both nautical expertise (boats; floating) and terrestrial strategy (altering the local proportion of land/water, with diggers). well, i'm here to tell you they're doing it all wrong with the tugboats and the excavators. what they need is a winch, and they happen to have one of the biggest ones on earth sitting right there in front of them. it's called a windlass, and it's used to raise the anchors. i'd imagine that, on a 1300-foot ship, the windlass is a pretty beefy specimen.

but what good is an anchor when you're involuntarily anchored already? well, here's what we do: lower the port anchor (that would be the left, the non-grounded side) onto a barge or a sturdy tugboat. bring it over to the opposite side of the canal. drop it. fire up that windlass and reel it in. i'm not sure if the ever given has a separate winch motor for each anchor (probably!), but if the port anchor doesn't do the trick, bring the starboard anchor over, too. if anything, that would provide even more leverage, since the chain would wrap around from the other side of the bow. we're going to scratch the paint a little. but that's what happens when you're off-roading.

if there's a problem here, it's that trying to bring in an anchor when you're stuck fast will cause the hull to heel over, in direct proportion to the angle of the chain and how hard you're yanking. this is how the nfl players ended up capsizing off florida—they pulled on their anchor so hard that the boat went over. you wouldn't want that to happen with a boat the size of a small city, but if the first effort got sketchy and the roll got intolerable, they could let out more chain and bring the anchor farther out to lessen the angle. which, given the obviously too-narrow dimensions of the suez canal, means: on land. throw that sucker on a flatbed trailer, hook up a chevrolet silverado duramax 4x4, and drag it as far out into the desert as it can go. then fire up the windlass, watch that bow swing out of the sand, and get international trade moving again.

come on, let's do it! winching is the rescue of last resort out on the trail. it can work in the suez canal, too.

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