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The 2CV Alaska Challenge
Rotterdam, Wednesday 30th June 1999.
The Christiane lay at her moorings like a reluctant mare tethered to a post. She was being loaded; her cargo, clay loam. A fine white dust from the clay had settled evenly across the ship. Precipitation had turned the dust into white slime that adhered to the underside of your shoes and found its way everywhere, inclding the crews' quarters. A trail of white footprints marked our tour around the Christiane.
The 2CV Alaska Challenge had started, two weeks earlier than planned due to the fact that cargo ships don’t run to fixed schedules. A provisional sailing date of 14th July was suddenly brought forward to 1st July, catching us unawares and demanding a drive from London to Rotterdam in the early hours of the morning. It also meant losing a night's sleep, but such is life when you're an intrepid adventurer.
Captain Nikola Mihovic, the Master of the Christiane, came from Croatia. Captain Mihovic was a solid looking man in his late 50's, with greying hair and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses. The eyes looked at us curiously: what kind of nutters cross the Atlantic by cargo ship? He showed us the empty swimming pool, high up at the rear of the bridge structure. It was here, either side of the swimming pool, that the cars would be secured for the voyage. Hmm...
There would be two CitroŽn 2CV's going across the Atlantic. The Alaska Challenge 2CV had found a companion in Rotterdam and now the cars were inseperable. Was it love? Meanwhile, Jose had decided that she'd had enough of being an intrepid adventurer (aka nutter) and was not crossing the Atlantic on the Christiane. Salty sea dogs, flaggons of rum, and pirates on the port bow did not appeal to her. Instead, she was hopping on a plane to go shopping in New York and would meet me and the Christiane in Savannah, Georgia, which, it seemed, was the ship's final destination.