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The 2CV Alaska Challenge
Bulletin No.4: NEW YORK, NEW YORK... (well, almost!)
MV Christiane, Atlantic Ocean, Friday 16th July 1999.
For 8 days the radio bands had been awash with static, but on the morning of 14th July they came alive again: Dunkin Donuts, Dodge Dealerships and Dolly Parton announced the lurking presence of America. Small, colourful fishing boats began to dot the ocean and jet planes arcing high up into the sky left vapour trails that looked like giant party streamers. The loneliness of the open ocean was coming to an end. Civilisation was calling out to us... Hilary Clinton was on Long Island, canvassing support against the gun lobby, and Whitney Houston was singing in Madison Square Garden that evening. God bless America.
Late in the afternoon of the 14th we sighted land, the eastern end of Long Island, that points like a giant finger towards New York City. The ship followed the coastline for a few hours before the twin towers of the World Trade Centre peeped at us from over the horizon. During the next hour the rest of the New York skyline slid coyly into view. A wave of excitement ran through the ship: even out at sea you could still sense the energy and vibrancy of the City. The Big Apple was shimmering on the horizon and the Christiane strained to reach it before sunset.
Ah, the romance, the adventure, the telex that came from the shipping company... Captain Mihovic was ordered to heave to. The Christiane was to stay for 4 days at open anchorage. No one on the ship seemed to know why. No one seemed to understand the motives of the shipping line guys back in Germany. Perhaps Saturn was in conjunction with Uranus? Perhaps someone got their latitudes and longitudes mixed-up? Perhaps it was because the Yankees beat the Mets? For whatever reason, we are now anchored five miles off Long Beach, Long Island, and cannot go ashore. We're chained here until Sunday 18th July, when the engines will cough back to life and the Christiane will head down the Ambrose Channel and under the Verrazono Narrows Bridge to New York harbour.
What's it like being stuck here, with New York City so near yet so far? Well, let's just say I'm starting to develop a nervous twitch, and the Duty Free has come to an end, which means no more beer or cigarettes: yeah, that's right, it's pretty grim, and to make matters worse there's going to be a heatwave this weekend, with temperatures approaching 100F (similar weather in New York last week caused 31 people to die from heatstroke). Great, huh, and because of the bizaare movements of world trade we have to languish out here, 5 miles off shore, on a sweating, heaving sea. Oh how I wish I were a fish, and during the blistering heat of the day I dream of a cold beer, and at night Gotham City twinkles in the distance, with the lights of aircraft buzzing like fireflies in the sky.