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The 2CV Alaska Challenge
Bulletin No.2 - To sail the Seven Seas.
MV Christiane, approx. 500 miles south west of Ireland...
There’d been an anxious few moments as the cars were hoisted from the quay on to the ship. CitroŽn 2CV’s look very different when they’re dangling 50ft up in the air: exposed, vulnerable, very unladylike... Our lady, the MV Christiane, was crossing the Atlantic with one hold empty and so Captain Mihovic had decided to place the 2CV’s there. We looked at the two toy cars in the giant hold and then Josť and I said our goodbyes. We’d learned that the Christiane’s first port of call was New York, so Josť would be able to join the ship there for the last leg of the journey down to Savannah. I figured the empty hold should just about be big enough to take the shopping Josť would pick up in New York...
Cargo ships are unpredictable beasts, and the Christiane was no exception. She was supposed to sail on Friday July 2nd but instead moved round to another part of Rotterdam to load more cargo. I found myself staring at a huge pile of scrap metal outside my cabin window, wondering if I’d ever escape the confines of Rotterdam. The Croatian crew had a similar resigned air about them. However, the next day, Saturday, a wave of expectation ran through the ship, and, after last minute to-ing and fro-ing by customs officers and shipping line officials, we finally sailed for the open sea at 7 pm with a toot on the ship's horn... Of all departures I’ve experienced, in ports, railway stations, and airports, this one seemed the most poignant, perhaps because it was such a drawn-out process. Rotterdam’s a huge port and it can take hours to wind through its waterways to the open sea. The Christiane is a big ship and as she made her way along the River Maas, two large waves acted as escort, racing along each bank, snapping branches and flooding low lying land. Regardless of this, the Christiane progressed up the narrow channel, her engines fighting against the strong current, her funnel ejecting steam that condensed and formed rainbows in her wake... This dream-like departure continued until 10 pm, when we reached the ugly industrial heart of Rotterdam Port and things turned sour: The Christiane had developed engine problems and had to be helped by two tugs into a dock. We spent the night there between a rubbish incineration plant and the inevitable piles of scrap metal...
The Christiane made a 2nd
attempt to leave at lunchtime the following day, Sunday July 4th, this
time with more success. Within a short while Rotterdam and the Hoek of
Holland had receeded into the distance and we were out on the English
Channel, jostling for position amongst scores of other ships. At the end
of the 2nd day at sea we left the Channel and headed out into the Atlantic
Ocean. The sea was calm, the weather was good. I stood on the deck and
gazed around: no land, no other ships, no nothing except the deep swelling
ocean. Gulp. I experienced a terrible anxiety when I realised that I would
be on this ocean for ten days, on this ship, with no escape, in the hands
of fate and its servant, the cruel sea. This anxiety attack was to last
for two long days. Meanwhile, the Christiane ploughed on across the
Atlantic, accompanied by baby dolphins that played in its