Some ships have been stuck in the Suez Canal far longer than the Ever Given, says the 99% Invisible podcast. When the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt broke out in 1967, the canal was blockaded, trapping the 14 cargo ships that were travelling through it. The war swiftly ended, but the canal stayed shut for eight years. Rotating skeleton crews looked after the ships.
These sailors formed the Great Bitter Lake Association, named after a lake in the canal. Lifeboats were used for sailing regattas; one ship built a football pitch and hosted tournaments. The Czechoslovakian freighter provided a particularly warm welcome. “They would open a bottle of whiskey, throw the cork away… you could not leave the ship until that whiskey was gone,” says retired sailor George Wharton.