I ran to the police station and found that it was closed. A vending machine repair man was there. He had been waiting for ten minutes. We waited together for another twenty, when someone let us in.
The officer told me that they were closed and that I should come back the next morning.
“Poko tempo! [little time!]” I told him. I was unable to communicate anything else. When I started looking through my backpack for my copy of the police report to help me he told me again that they were closed.
Eventually we made a phone call to someone in charge who didn’t speak much English. I kept asking the officer on my end if I could use Google translate on his computer to talk to him so that he could relay what I say to the man at the other end of the phone, he kept saying no.
The man at the other end told the officer next to me to have me use Google translate.
I may or may not have successfully explained the issue.
“Do you have the coordinates?” They asked me.
“No, but we can get them from NOAA, or maybe even the Italian Coast Guard.”
“So you don’t have them?”
“No. I don’t.”
“What’s your phone number?” the voice on the phone asked me.
“I don’t have one.” I told him, watching my hope ship sail away.
“Where are you staying?” The officer tried.
“At the bar near the beach.” I had forgotten the name of the bar. The ship sailed over the horizon.
The conversation soon ended. My additional attempts to communicate with the officer using google translate were completely unsuccessful.
When I left the officer suggested I try the patrol station down the street. I did, and they told me I needed to go to the police station.
I went back to the Simonetti.
“How’s it going?” The owner asked me with a smile.
“Not good.” I explained my troubles.
He called Julie, the waitress that speaks English. We got in his car, picked her up, and went back to the station. Another officer was there this time and we only waited twenty minutes to be let in. Meanwhile I had gotten the number of phone number of the US air force officer that had contacted my brother.
My friends explained to the officer the situation. The police officer let me use their wifi connection, thank god. He couldn’t call America, but I could with Skype. The friendly sergeant at the other end was happy to give me the GPS coordinates - 37'57.87N, 16'06.27E. I divided the minutes by 60 and plugged the results into google maps.
The officer who had taken my report earlier arrived at the station. The police looked over my shoulder as I pinpointed the location of my PLB. The map told me the PLB was at sea about 10 meters off the beach, near where my kayak had originally been parked.
Hopefully the margin of error meant that the villain was on the beach and not that my PLB had activated itself when someone threw it away.
The police put on theri gun belts, ready to go check it out. My friends and I got in the car and drove. We got there first, but kept on driving to Simonetti. The driver explained to me that we needed to let the police take it from here. Not entirely my style, since I was there anyways, but I respected the notion.
I went to the bar to wait.
The Italian Air Force called me to make sure I was okay. They told me that the locator beacon was accurate to 100 meters, and that I would need specialized radio equipment to get closer than that. The beacon would broadcast my location approximately once every hour or two depending on when the satellite passed overhead.
I saw the owner sneak off so I followed him and joined the search operation on the beach in the dark. My two friends and I and the two officers scoured the sand, and the junk, and the boats pulled up on the beach, but no luck. Any miscreants who might have been perpetrators had long since wandered off.
I didn’t even have my super bright headlamp to see in the dark since it was stolen.
We didn’t find the beacon.
A young man told me that he would like to get me a new PLB to replace the one that I had lost. He thought he could have it in a week. In fact, here in this town there’s a store that sells them.
Another fellow told me that he wanted to help me pay for my equipment so that I wouldn’t think poorly of the town. He insisted. “Most people here are good,” he told me, “only a few are crooks.”
My host from the night before told me he had gone with my hooligan to talk to the local mob boss. The boss had wanted to help. He had known about my problem since the theft took place at three AM. But his hands were tied. As it was, he was already in trouble with the law and needed to stay on the straight and narrow for the time being.
I resolved to get new coordinates in the morning and try again in the light. If the coordinates moved then we would know the beacon was still with someone and the police or I could try to follow them to recover the PLB and maybe even catch a bad guy. If the beacon didn’t move then I would search the beach again. If I didn’t find it on land, I would dive for it.
The owner of the restaurant asked me if I would like to store my boat inside overnight. I took him up on the offer. The young fellow who told me he knew where I could replace my beacon came to help me move my kayak up the beach to the restaurant.
A small crowd of people gathered around my kayak to take a look at it. One of them pulled my flashing beeping PLB out from deep in the cockpit.
Hooray, it was returned. I searched the boat. Only the PLB was returned, the rest was still gone.
The owner of Simonetti asked me to stay another day, today, in town. I agreed, hoping more of my gear would turn up, but so far, no luck.