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February 6, 2015 | A challenging start of the NPE tour

So here we are on our travels again – this time it’s to America!

Leif Eriksson, The Viking chieftain, is supposed to have travelled from Europe to America in 1001 AD but you can bet your bottom dollar that he didn’t have anywhere near the number of problems to contend with that we did...
Here is how the chain of events unfolded.

Everything was running nicely and, most importantly, to plan. The necessary work on the Editourmobil had been completed in the workshop before Christmas, the TÜV had given its blessing, and so it was that I drove our truck from Heidelberg to Hamburg to be shipped off to the States. On 6th January our ways parted with the intention of meeting up two weeks later (or at least that was the plan) in Halifax,Canada.

Whilst all this was going on, preparations were proceeding apace in Heidelberg. The appointments in Canada had all been scheduled as well as the first appointments that would take us into the North East of the USA. Admittedly, there were one or two small points that still needed ironing out. For instance, would our truck be able to cope with the arctic temperatures of -20 degrees in Canada? Would we be able to fit our snow chains? (We had not practised that yet!) and the insurance arrangements for the Editourmobil in North America were still unresolved. Nevertheless, we told ourselves, we have already travelled across 50 countries in South America, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Asia Minor, for all of which we have had to get various different insurances. Surely, we would not encounter any problems getting insurance for a civilised country like Canada.

Shortly before my flight to Canada the first negative signs decided to rear their heads. Our ferry had suffered engine damage on the way across the Atlantic. So that meant a return to Europe to get it fixed before setting out again. So that rather put paid to a punctual rendezvous in Halifax.
What were we to do? Luckily, the publishing house wisely takes precautions and always has roll-up displays to hand to cover eventualities like this when the Editourmobil is unavailable. So we took a flight to Toronto, booked into a hotel not far from the airport and made our first visits using a hire car. As for the snow and ice, it was as to be expected, erratic – alternating between lots and hardly anything. In the meantime the steamer was making headway with its return to Canada and came into Halifax 2 weeks late. However, the problem with the insurance in Canada had not yet been solved. Although we were acquainted with every insurance broker in Germany (not only by his first name but also by his shoe size) nobody wanted to insure us. A commercial motor caravan, registered in Germany, with 6 different drivers and by then 25 years old – no way! Nobody wanted to underwrite the risk. Sadly it was time for me to return to Europe, and for Rolf to fly out to Halifax to collect the motor caravan from the port and – worst case scenario – to push it back on the boat to Europe if he was unable to obtain any insurance on site.

And so it was, on site, we got the same spiel again - long telephone conversations and even longer email exchanges: and still no insurance! But there was one glimmer of hope. If we had a Canadian subsidiary, they could take on the Editourmobil in Canada, register it and – hey presto – we would have our insurance. No sooner said than done. Rolf set up a subsidiary in Halifax, organised a tax number, and sent the Editourmobil for some small mods to be done in the workshop in order to obtain the North American version of a MOT.
Finally, the company registration is almost through, the Ministry of Transport has given the green light, and the insurance broker is looking forward to being able to register a ‘Canadian’ Editourmobil soon. Let’s see if it all pans out as expected. Watch this space.

Since the Viking boats were in fact subject to the same conditions (even though the details were probably somewhat different) as we are now, i.e. European registration (Norway), Commercial Usage (land seizure and plundering) and a large number of different drivers (25 to 50 rowers), it would be interesting to find out which American Insurance Company actually insured Leif Eriksson.

Alex Büchler