Friday, January 21, 2011

My Search and Rescue

Last night I posted the exact position of my kayak on the blog. It is unusual for me to do this for security reasons, however, I was feeling generous.

This morning I had my night things in my duffel bag and was making my way towards my boat. Their was a coast guardian near my boat, possibly waiting for me and possibly minding his own business. I was best off avoiding the coast guard, so far they had only caused me trouble.

To get dressed and prepare my boat for launch I would need at least a half hour with it. A distraction was in order, how could I get the coast guardian away from my boat for half an hour? Arson, I would set fire to one of the other boats in the harbor and then quietly be off.

On second thought, I had probably better face my fate, I could even hope he wasn't waiting for me.

“Is this your boat?” He asked me.


“You need to come with me.” He said. Rats, what had I done now. He went on to tell me that he had been waiting by my boat all night.


“No problem, that's my job.” He said kindly and professionally.

I met the captain of the harbor and we came to the following understanding. I would call a free number for the Italian coast guard search and rescue (SAR) force every night and tell them my position. The coast guard had gotten wind of my trip the night before. They had also come to the understanding that I was lost at sea and launched two boats and a rescue plane some time around midnight to recover what was left of me.

I learned later that this was partially my fault, I had arranged to meet the Lega Navale in Civitavecchia a night earlier then I had realized, and when I didn't show up at the prearranged time they informed the coast guard. Sorry.

Day 55:

I set out in a straight line from Porto Ercole to Montalto Marina. I checked the weather and was expecting a mid level wind, that might have been a little helpful, especially in the afternoon. In fact it was a straight on headwind. I stopped for one of my breaks (42.360573,11.34613) and found that I was moving back the way I came at two knots. I decided to cut straight towards land hoping that the wind and current would be reduced there, even though it was over a mile out of the way.

I was hoping to make it past Montalto Marina so that I would have a short trip on Fridayto Civitavacchia, but instead I arrived late. The harbor there, the mouth of a river, is small and barely developed. I saw only one other boat on the water next to a high seawall and took mine out at a ramp. About a hundred meters away there was a small gated and locked yard with boats in it. The yard was next to a house so I knocked on the door to ask if I could leave my boat there. The man did not own the yard, or speak English, and told me I would have to wait until tomorrow.

I wanted to go to Rome for the weekend, my parents were there visiting, and I wanted to leave that night. So I climbed over the gate with my kayak, hid it in the yard, and made to leave when the man was out of the house again and yelling at me. He knew I had put the boat in the yard because it wasn't where I he had seen it earlier, but the kayak was hidden well enough so that he couldn't find it.

Angry and confused he went at me in Italian, and finally got really mad at me for not understanding him. Eventually he stormed off.

I called the coast guard number to tell them where I was and that I wouldn't be paddling until the weekend. The man on the other end of the line was not only happy to talk to me, but was able to give me train information. That was really nice. Hopefully I will continue to enjoy a more positive relationship with the coast guard, and find my boat where I left it when I get back.


  1. There was a naval school for members of the Betar Zionist movement in Civitavecchia in the 1930s.