Friday, January 31, 2014

Pesody in Napoli

My logistical support team informed me that my paddle should arrive in a couple of days.  I decided to wait for it in Naples rather than run back and forth.

I went to the American consulate to pick up my renewed passport.  When I gave them my old one they told me the new one should be ready in a couple of weeks.

“What happens if I can’t come right away?”  I asked.

They told me I had three months.  Three months would expire in two days.

The security at the consulate is tight.  First there’s an outer gate.  After being let in through the outer gate, there’s a cage.  Three sides are high fence and one side a booth.  Inside the booth visitors surrender their electronics and weapons for the duration of their visit, then walk through a metal detector. The booth lets you into the parking lot where you can wait for someone to open the door to the building for you.

I got as far as the very first gate before the trouble started.  It seemed they did not want to let me in to my home country without shoes.  So I waited for a while.

An Italian police officer left the booth and approached the gate.

“What do you want?”  He asked.

“I’m here to pick up my passport.”

“One moment please.”  He went back to the booth and made a phone call.

I waited.

An American soldier waited behind me.  He was a programmer who had never used a computer before he enlisted.  The young guy was enjoying his world tour and was something of an advertisement for the US military which occasionally goes to war.  I’m not a big fan of war, but I think we should do it more often.

This week the world remembered the liberation of Auschwitz.  It’s largely accepted that America did not join WWII to free the Jews just as they did not invade the south to free the slaves.  But with a little encouragement from Japan, they came.  Better late than never I guess.  

How many people weren’t liberated in Darfur, Rwanda, and Cambodia?  Hemingway volunteered to fight in the Spanish civil war, presumably because he believed it was the right thing to do.  Nobody does that anymore from the West.

A soldier in a suit stepped out of the gate and scanned the terrain.  After a moment he gave a serious nod to the civilian behind him and they left the consulate.

I still waited.

The gate buzzed and I was invited to come wait next to the booth.

“Why don’t you have shoes?”  The guard asked me.

I explained about every gram slowing my kayak down and me not wanting anything unnecessary with me.  I explained how I think It’s healthier not to wear shoes, so long as you stay clear of broken glass and bloody syringes.  And I explained how I do have shoes, only they’re neoprene and uncomfortable for walking around in, though they’re great for kayaking.

“One moment please.”

I think I wasn’t wearing shoes the last time I had been there also, but I wasn’t sure.

I waited.

The guard handed me a phone and a woman’s voice on the other end asked me “Why aren’t you wearing shoes.”

I explained.

She wasn’t interested in hearing all of it and thanked me.

I was let in.

“Leave your electronics here, ... if you have any.”  The guard smirked.  He thought he was funny.  I didn’t have any electronics.

But the metal detector beeped.  I thought I took everything out of my pockets.

Oh, wait, no.  There was a nail clipper in there.  How did that get there?  My nail clipper was confiscated as a weapon.

They let me in and I got my new passport.  The guy who handed it to me enthusiastically asked me “How’s the kayaking trip going?”  He remembered me from three months earlier and had a big grin, so I forgave the embassy for it’s pesodic attitude.

I walked back to my hostel and was stopped on the way by two pretty girls.  They wanted my blood to save the children.  Sure, my blood was good stuff and I was always happy to save the children for pretty girls.

While I was filling out a form the young lady had something profound to say to me.

“You don’t have any shoes.”

“That’s true.”  I assured her.

“One moment.”  She went into the blood van to speak with a woman in a lab coat.

The lab coat then stepped out of the van explained to me that only people born in Italy could give blood.  She apologized.

I moved on.

I suspected pesody.  Antisemitics hate semitic peoples, or those of Middle Eastern descent.  Racists in general hate one race or another.  Arachnophobics are scared of spiders, sexists hate sex, and pesodics hate feet.  Pes is latin for foot and odi - hate.  Pesodics, like many ignorant and obtuse people fight to keep the world in the dark ages.  They try to hold back those of us who want to take a step forward, without shoes.

I asked at the front of a cafe if there was wifi.  There was, but I had to order something.

I got a hot chocolate and sat down to work on my blog.  It was an expensive hot chocolate, but that was okay since I would be there for a while and had a lot to do.

Well before I was done the waiter told me that I could only sit in the cafe if I had shoes. I wish he told me that before they took my money.  I left.

I have some advice for you.

If you find yourself talking to someone without shoes and you can’t help but stare at his big beautiful hairy feet...

“Hello, I’m up here! ... pervert.”

Maybe it’s a sexist thing.  Maybe people insist that I cover my feet for the same reason ladies, in many places, are expected to cover there boobs.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Night Train


I needed to get to Naples.  Not only was my smartphone there, but so was my brand new passport waiting to be picked up.  If it waited too long, just a few more days, it would stop waiting and I’d be out 100 Euro.

After spending all of Thursday morning on boat repairs, it was time to go catch a bus.  Apparently, that’s not so easy.  There are many bus companies, and any one of them might or might not be able to get me part or all of the way there.

A dock hand gave me a lift to the station at 14:00 when the port closed.  Following the dockhand’s advice,I left my sleeping bag and mattress in the restroom which remained open in case I was unable to find a bus and needed to stay in Policoro for the night.  My sleeping bag was locked away.  The dockhand assured me that he would return the bag to my kayak first thing in the morning if I was not there to do so myself.

At the bus station I found some kids smoking cigarettes, hooligans, and creeps.  I suspect I stood out.  There was one round fellow in what was either a uniform or a goofy suit who might have been working there.

I asked him if there was a bus to Naples.

“Yes, tomorrow morning.  Try the train station.”

The train station, near the sea, is about an hour walk from the bus station in the center of town.  The closest thing to an office or ticket booth was a small cafe that may or may not been able to provide train services.

“Ciao, tu parli Inglese?”

“A little, how can I help you?”  She asked.

Her phone rang.  “One moment.”  She answered.  She was happy to speak to whomever was calling.  She laughed and chatted about all sorts of things in Italian for at least twenty minutes while I waited on the other side of the counter.  

A train came.  The woman who I had hoped could sell me a ticket or give me instructions continued to chat on the phone.  

I went outside.  The train, like many I’d seen in the south, had one car.  The engineer sat in the front, and I called up to him through his window “Napocouli?”

“Ci, change at Ao{gh-orh.”

I boarded.  The name at the next stop sounded close to whatever the engineer said.  So I got off and got his attention through the window.  He confirmed that I was in the right place, wherever that was.

I found a machine that agreed to sell me a ticket.  The next train would depart at 6:00 and arrive at 11:30.  A little late, but better late than never.  The consulate is closed on Sundays, so if I wanted to get my passport I needed to arrive today or hang around until Monday next week.

I chilled for an hour.  It was 16:30.  My train would leave at six ... six?  I went back to the machine.  My train was scheduled to depart at 6:00 am the next morning.  Argggg!  The machine duped me.  Getting to Naples today, it now explained, was impossible.

I found a train office that was not a cafe of cigarette shop.  I wanted a refund so I could go back to Policoro and catch the Friday morning bus.

They would not give me a refund, but no problem, I could catch a bus at 18:00 with my train ticket.  I could change at the last stop and take the train to Salerno.

“What do I do in Salerno?”

“You might be able to get to Naples from there.”  The blue uniformed man said assuringly.

My first bus arrived late.  I boarded the train moments before it left.  I arrived in Salerno.   It was 10:30 at night.  The departure board said a train would depart for Milano at 23:30.  I wondered if it would go through Naples.

I asked around.  Some of the people in the station assured me it would, others assured me it wouldn’t.  

Bums slept uncomfortably on blankets in the station.

I’ve been to Salerno before, so I knew where a couple of the central bus departure areas were.  I wandered over and found that all the busses were gone for the night.

One of the stations was just over the port.  My sleeping bag was with my kayak, but if I had to stay the night I might be able to manage.  I’ve had some experience with spending nights in ports.  Before I checked the sailboats for a shelter opportunity I walked over to the Lega Navale building.  Door one was locked.  Door two was locked.  Door three was not.  I opened it slowly in case someone else was already inside.

I was in a restaurant.  The tables were set.  The lights were off.  I found some folded tablecloths in a corner.  I left.

Back at the station the 23:30 train to Milano would not stop in Naples.  I told a ticket machine I want to buy a ticket to Naples to find the time for the next train - 3:30.

I wandered and found myself in front of a hotel.  I could break down and get a room.  Hotels this time of year in southern Italy are usually cheap and empty. The clerk claimed this one was full, but gave me directions to another.  The second hotel was also full.

At 1:00 am I slept on the floor of the Lega Navale wrapped in a tablecloth.  At 3:00 my alarm beeped.  I did my very best to leave everything as I found it.

Back at the station the train arrived.  People around me boarded, but the conductor stopped me.  “Ticket.”

I showed him my ticket.

“This is for tomorrow,” he told me.

“Today is tomorrow.”  I tried.

Another conductor had walked up next to him.  

The first said “No, today is today.”  

But the second conductor agreed with me that it was tomorrow.  I boarded.

On the train I realized that this was one of the trains that had assigned seats.  Small enclosed booths were separated from the aisle by closed doors.  Each booth had six seats.  While none of the booths was full, every seat was taken by someone stretched out to sleep.  If I wanted a seat I would have to prove that it was mine.

My seat was on the 9:30 train.  I sat in the aisle and worked on teaching my computer to play chess.  Hopefully, I’ll keep my mind sharp despite all the hours I’m spending under the sun far away from math school.

At 5:00 we arrived in Naples.  5:00 is the hour I try to wake up every day, and like clockwork, at 5:30, while walking through the streets still half an hour away from my hostel, I needed to go to the bathroom.

The first two cafes didn’t have bathrooms.  But the third did. After I accommodated my needs, in an overflow of gratitude, I bought a chocolate croissant.

The hot chocolate goo leaked out all over my hands, mustache and beard.  They let me use their bathroom a second time to clean up.  And for the weekend, I was home.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014



I have arrived in Policore where all three people, the bartender, captain, and dock hand, are friendly.

The captain lent me his power sander and I set to work on the new paddle, making it smooth and beautiful.  Hopefully it will now operate as intended.  My hands didn’t quite heal durring the long break I spent in Laghi Sibari, and the two days of paddling was not good for them.

I can leave my boat locked and inside here for as long as I like, they tell me.  The captain also provided me with some epoxy which I used to repair some pretty serious wounds my hull took when I recently beached on a pile of rocks.

I also attempted a more permanent repair on my seat since the string is wearing thin and if it snaps while I’m making my upcoming crossing I’ll be in trouble.

My rudder hasn’t worked since the night in the church a few weeks ago.  Something was wrong down at the pedals.  With a long hooked pole we were able to free up whatever was keeping the pieces stuck too far forward to reach.  The piece of plastic washer that was holding a screw in place was stripped, and the captain helped me fix that also.

It was a good day for much needed repairs.  My phone has arrived in Naples.  I’ll pick it up and spend the sabbath there.  Hopefully with the long weekend my hands will have enough time to finish healing.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Day 96


I slept only twenty or so feet from the water.  And since I heard the waves crashing into the stones with great force, I went back to sleep a few times to procrastinate what would undoubtedly be an ugly launch.

When I was finally ready, the waves weren’t as big as I had imagined.  But the beach was steep and the waves were breaking hard into it.  I committed myself to getting very wet while launching and began.

I counted the big waves.  They came in sets of six.  The next set came and at seven I was ready to move, only it was big also.  So was eight, and nine.  It was a double set.  At thirteen the water was calmer and I launched.

I was passed the surf, and balancing very precariously with something big between my butt and the seat.  I arched my back so that my shoulders were on my stern deck.  With my right hand I tried to use the buoyancy of my paddle for support and with my left I fished around until I managed to free my quick grab bag and get everything in order.

I was off.

I passed a towering castle, then farms, forests, and hills.  I paddled through nasty stinky chemical water and used my paddle like a canoe paddle so as not to get the slime on my hands. I passed rivers with reeds. I paddled past purple rimmed jellyfish bigger than your head.  It’s the second time I saw one, but this time it let me take better pictures.

It’s hard to take pictures in the surf.

I kept track of my speed with my GPS and I once again found myself staying over 3.5 knots, the speeds I paddle at when I had my winged paddle.  I think it takes a little more energy with the storm paddle, and I’m going to lose another day soon so that my hands can heal again, but I’m getting the hang of keeping up a good pace.

I even paddled at over five knots when a scary monster wave was breaking off my starboard.  SPRINT!  I made it past the break, which would have likely left me stranded on the beach in a very undignified position with sand up my nose.

The wave, still tall but a section not breaking, passed under me pop[ed me into the air settled down.

I arrived in the port of Policoro.  Like Laghi Sibar, it’s a town designed to give every house canal access.  The water and the streets are cleaner though.

I looked around and could not tell where the port’s office was.  I tried contacting them on the radio.  They answered!  in Italian.  I had no idea what they were saying in answer to my question “Dove officio? [where’s the office?]”

When I did find it, it was closed which made me wonder who I had been talking with on the port’s chanel.  Next to the office was a bar with a wifi connection and lots of outlets to plug into.  I felt like I had stepped back into the first world.

A man there called the local Lega Navale for me, and they told me they could not host me.  Oh well, at least I found internet access got to write this post.  

I was thinking it would take a really long time for my paddles to arrive in the mail, since my radio which was mailed a long time ago, still hasn’t come.  It turns out we put the wrong address on the package.  And the package for my phone.

When I was in Laghi Sibari, I hitchhiked into the post office in SIbari to ask them if anything could be done about my mail in the system with the wrong address.  They said no, tough luck.

Corrado Fano, the most heroic person I know to whom I am not related, went to the post office in Naples.  He rescued my phone from their clutches and learned that my radio was sent back to the states.  Thank you Corado!  I will soon be coming to pick up my phone.  It’ll be an opportunity to let my hands heal.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3467,3468,3469,3470,3471,3472,3473,3474,3475,3476,3477,3478,3480,3481,3482,3483,3484,3479"]

Nautical miles paddled:  17

Total since Naples:  465.5

Current location:  40.205312,16.730203


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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Day 95


Laghi Sibari is a small town designed so that almost every house in it backs up to one of the canals.  In the winter, I don’t think there are more than twenty people in the town at any given moment.  A small bar sells some bare necessities and if you need anything else you’d have to drive eight kilometers to Sibari.

The main port is kept locked.  It has a few long piers and a bathroom with a hot shower that I slept in.  The office gave me a key.

When I left my boat there, I took most of my electronics with me, since the thieves seem to go for that stuff.  I did not take the PLB, in the hope that if someone stole the boat, the might be silly enough to activate it from their home.

I stayed for a few days to let my hands heal.  When I left they weren’t completely better, but much improved.  I’m in no rush, since if I arrive at the end of Italy before my paddles, I’ll have to wait for them.

Someone stole my PLB.  I sent an email to the US PLB people so it’s now registered as stolen.  It hasn’t been activated yet.  When I asked a couple of fishermen if they had seen anything they claimed not to understand me, even though I’m getting pretty good at telling people my gear was stolen.

When I asked people in town who were friendly towards me if they could help, I found a stone wall.

It was time to leave.  The big metal door to the marina was closed.  I was in my boat near the office.  A fisherman stood on the dock, which was high up.  I figured I was in luck, he could pop into the office and ask them to open the gate for me rather than me taking out and putting in, considerable hassle.

The fisherman told me the port was closed and that the door couldn’t be opened.  And even if it was opened, the canal was closed.

“I can get through the canal opening.  It’s not a problem.”

No I couldn’t, he told me.  That was impossible.

“I arrived that way Friday morning!”

No, it’s impossible.

I got out of my boat and went to the office.  The woman was happy to open the gate for me. I paddled away.

At first the water was flat, but as the day moved on it got rougher.  I was beached on a bunch of rocks.  I had to make a number of support strokes in waves near the shore.

I think I’ll need to stay near the shore until I get a new PLB.  I don’t know.

By the time I arrived in Borgata Marina I was tired.  I took out on the pebble beach right next to a bar that looked closed for the winter.  There was an awning I could sleep under.

I used some junk to hide my kayak while I went into town looking for an internet connection.  People told me to go to Sport Bar.

“Hi, do you have a wifi connection?”

“There is free public connection outside.”

“Can I sit here and use it?”

“It’s outside.”

I sat outside and tried to connect to the internet, but all I got was a page in Italian asking for a username and password.

I didn’t need a connection to write my story for the day though.  All I needed was a place to plug in my computer.  No, I could not plug in my computer in Sport Bar.  

There was a toy store near where I parked my boat. The owner sat hunched over a laptop.  I told her my story.  No, I couldn’t plug in my computer there either.

I went to refill my water bag at a pump.  The police stopped me and questioned me.  I told them my story.  After radioing in my passport information, they wished me luck on my trip.

I slept under the awning at the abandoned bar.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3450,3451,3452,3453,3454,3455,3456,3457,3458,3459,3460,3461,3462,3463,3464"]


Nautical Miles paddled: 17

Total since Naples:  448.5

Current location:  39.9698,16.625986


Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 94

This blog lately has had a lot of downers. I want to remind my readers that I’m having an amazing time out here. Every time I paddle I enjoy the thrill of the sea. The problem is that if I keep on writing that I’m seeing breathtaking views, you guys, my readers, will just assume that I’m coming down with asthma. I’m having a great time out here, even if day 94 does begin with me trying to decide if I can paddle with only partially healed ripped hands.

Day 94

I was cold in all my clothing in my sleeping bag in my bivi sack. I wondered if all the use and tight storage had cost my bag some of it’s loft.

The sun rose and I packed quickly. I stopped to take a piece of glass out of my foot that I probably picked up a couple of days earlier. It hurt, but my tweezers and some alcohol, for the wound, put an end to it.

A fisherman pulled a struggling octopus out of the water with a line. I haven’t seen many marine critters in the water. The Mediterranean is substantially overfished.

I didn’t feel bad for the creature. I felt bad for us. The fisherman took something precious from the community for himself. I’m sure that his fishing was more than recreational and an important part of his diet, but I still felt bad.

That’s probably why I’ve never seen a dolphin in the Mediterranean. Dolphins go where the food is, and there’s just not that much around here. Dolphins are one of the most amazing creatures on earth. Aside from their nearly unparalleled hydrodynamic natural beauty, they are perhaps the only creature on the earth besides man that has has a multitude of languages.

Dolphins talk with each other, and if you take one from its pod and put it in another, it won’t be able to understand its new peers. Just like me here in Italy, it takes a while to pick up a new language

Douglas Adams, a renown marine biologist, writes this about those elegant creatures whose home we’re destroying:
“On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.”

Poor squid. Poor us. Poor dolphins.

The sea was flat. I had a choice to make. I could cross directly to Sibari Marina, or follow the coast. Following the coast would be about four miles longer, the same distance a direct crossing would take me off shore.

My hands were not in good shape. If I was out and decided I needed to stop early, too bad for me. Of course, the farther I had to go to make the next Lega Navale, the more likely I would fail. A wind was forecast to come from the mountains off my port side. I would have to adjust my course, but I didn’t think it would slow me much. If I stayed near the shore, I probably wouldn’t feel it and if I did I could use the waves moving towards the beach to compensate.

There was a white lighthouse at the point where I had to decide. Two miles were behind me and my hand were doing fine. I began the crossing.

The sun shone and sparkled on the flat sea. Snow capped mountains ahead glowed in the light. To my left villages disappeared into foggy heights. And I made good time. I kept my speed over 3.5 knots and often over four. The same sorts of speeds I got with my winged paddle I was now making with my old spare.

I don’t know why. Maybe I just needed an adjustment period. Maybe there was half a knot of current with me. Maybe I just felt good. If I had my winged would I have been paddling at four and 4.5? I don’t know. But I did feel good.

That’s probably why I got to see the dolphin. My heart pounded. It had surfaced and gone back down just like a dolphin, but it was a ways off - and coming closer.

I saw it more clearly. Its two main top fins elegantly gliding in and out of the water a few hundred feet ahead.

Dolphins don’t have two fins. I’ve seen them in the everglades. This one seemed to. Maybe it wasn’t a dolphin after all. It was big.

It came closer. It was two dolphins, surfacing and diving in perfect tandem. One of them was small, maybe the size of a bread box. The other was probably a little bigger than me.

They simultaneously leaped into the air when they were about twenty feet away. My heart pounded. I sat motionless in a supreme state of awe.

The dolphins dived down and came up farther off. I paddled towards them and they dived again, this time coming up even farther away.

I watched them a little while longer as they swam farther and farther and then I continued on.

When I was two miles away from Sibari and about a mile off the beach a boat came towards me and stopped about 500 hundred feet behind me. I had resumed paddling and the boats motors roared as it came closer then stopped again. It was a Coast Guard boat. I paddled backwards towards it.

The captain explained to me, first in Italian and then in English, that I had to stay within three hundred meters of the shore.

“Okay, scuzi,” I told him. I suspect I sounded as sincere as I felt since the shook his finger at me saying I was naughty.

He said that was all so I continued on my way.

I saw the dolphins again. This time there were at least three of them, and one was big. Maybe as big as my kayak. I suspect there were four, but I never saw more than three at once. I stopped to watched until they were far away.

I passed the mouth of a rushing river that hurled me off course with hand freezing water. I had expected the current, but my preemptive compensation was not quite enough. Once I was through, the eddie, which I had also foreseen and underestimated, pushed me onto the beach.

The next river was my exit. Red and green posts indicated it was the entrance to the port. Only it was more of a stream than a river. The water rushed through the beach and and was only a few feet deep. I don’t think many vessels besides a kayak could have gotten through, but there was no arguing with the posts.

Once past the beach the current relaxed and the water deepened. Forest surrounded me. Ahead of me was an old industrial concrete building and to my left large steel doors in the water surrounded by concrete. Signs indicated one door was for coming and the other going. Maximum speed was two knots.

I waited. Nothing happened. I blew my whistle. Again. And again. I tried contacting the doors operators on my radio. Again and again. No luck. I got out, picked my boat up, and climbed over the wall. I got back in on the other side.

The water was decorated with slime, floating goo, and oil slicks. I used my paddle like a canoe paddle so that I wouldn’t get the filthy water on my hands. The port was much more that the standard mooring center. It was an enormous canal that spread between bunches of pink apartments closed for the winter. I found a dock in what seemed to be a centralized port area.

No one was around. The port office and a cafe were open. The office attendant gave me a key to the port’s bathroom and the lady who sat in the cafe confirmed that the town was empty and there was no supermarket, but she’d be happy to pick things up for me.

The port bathroom had a hot shower and a sheltered floor to sleep on, and for the sabbath, that was really all I needed.

Nautical miles paddled: 15
Total since Naples: 431.5
Current location: 39.729898,16.506667

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 93

I set out today with my new paddle.  I felt heavier than my older storm paddle, but I liked that it gripped the water better.

I used a slightly different design.  It came recommended as a good internet source.  I drew the lines onto the wood and the three brothers and father that ran the factory cut.  They had a different machine for everything and did an amazing job at cutting exactly right really quickly.

For a finish, they didn’t have boiled linseed oil, but they gave me something that they said was similar.

Once there was a misunderstanding, and they cut a hard angle into the shaft, but I was watching their work closely and yelled “No! No! No!” and we patched it up with wood glue.

As I paddled out of the port I realized I left my phone behind.  Oh well.  A mile in and a car pulled into a parking lot near the water and honked loudly.  Rats.  I made a beach landing, thanked my friend profusely, and then a beach launch.

I don’t think the new paddle is any faster than the previous one.  Also, it makes my hands bleed.  At around mile six my hands began to feel sore and while I tried changing my style a little, there’s only so much I can do.

At mile eight I looked at my hands.  They were bleeding.  Not a lot, but with sea water constantly pouring on the wounds, they weren’t coagulating.  Not to mention I was still paddling and making things worse.

I switched back to my old paddle.  And pulled over at the first beach that looked good.  I would have to let my hands heal before I could paddle any more.

Maybe if I sand it down a lot, it will be smooth enough to paddle with, and weigh enough less.

The wood has a really tight grain, and fewer places where I accidently cut too deep with a rip saw.  It has more potential than my old paddle.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3365,3366,3367,3368,3369,3370,3371,3373,3374,3375,3376,3377,3378,3379,3380,3382,3384,3385,3386,3387"]

Miles paddle: 9

Total since Naples: 416.5

Current Location:  39.613016,16.78204


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Delay and a Run


It’s Monday.  I’m here in Cariat and have been since Thursday.  The boat builder here has assured me he can follow the instructions I give him and make me a paddle.  

Friday morning a couple of guys on his staff made a lot of calls until they found a place where I can get cedar, maybe.  The place was supposed to call back Friday or after the weekend to confirm.  Today is a holiday, so hopefully I’ll hear from them tomorrow.

I had an interview and a piece was written about me in a local newspaper.  This morning a fellow in a coffee shop recognized me and wanted to take a picture of me.  It was my first taste of celebrity life.  Hopefully when I’m wealthy and famous I won’t forget the little people I stepped on to get there.

Yesterday I went running in the mountains for a couple of hours.  

I climbed along a one lane paved road that dissolved into a couple of muddy wheel ruts with hoof prints.  To my left was a gorge with a rushing stream.  I passed fields, orchards, pasturing cows, and old farmhouses.  The woods smelled like fall and some of the tree colors matched.

I only embedded one thorn in my foot.  There was too much mud to take it out at first, but at the next stream crossing I washed my foot off and pulled the thumbtack sized thorn out.

On my way back down to the apartment I’ve been invited to stay in it rained the whole way.  I passed a group of about ten jeeps and pickup trucks in a field a few hundred yards aways.  I thought this was No Country for Old Men and minded my own business.

In sopping clothing I went to take a shower.  There was no hot water and my heart rate dropped, leaving me very cold.  I warmed up a pot of water on the stove and used it to wash myself in the bathtub a little bit at time.

Hopefully, I’ll soon have a brand new paddle.  The new one will also be a storm paddle, but a few centimeters longer and made from cedar.  If things go right, it will be faster and lighter, and I’ll be on my way with all speed.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3362,3361,3360,3359,3358,3357,3356,3355,3354,3353,3352,3351,3350,3349,3348,3347,3346,3345,3344,3343,3342,3341,3340,3339,3338,3337,3336"]

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 92


In the port of Ciro Marina the water was flat.  A crowd gathered to watch me paddle away and I always feel proud to use my storm paddle.  It looks good.

Outside of the port, the water was not flat.  Two meter swells surged forward breaking into the beach.  It was the sort of water I would be uncomfortable to stop and pee in.  A fleet of five fishing vessels with cabins and crews approached me in a line.  As I passed them I watched the fishermen for someone to tell me I was crazy and give me an excuse to turn around.

I waved hello and they waved back.   I hoped that around the point the waves would die down considerably so I could pee.  If they did not then it would be too late to turn back and I’d have to make a beach landing.

A white lighthouse rose from the woods behind the sandy point.  I caught a few perfectly sized waves to surf around the point into flat water.


I made slow steady progress with my storm paddle.

I passed a four story industrial rig with cranes.  A pipe big enough for a Volkswagen ran a thousand feet suspended over the water from the rig to a factory on land.

A man on the beach waved to me and seemed to be telling me to come in.  It turned out he was a great friend of mine from the day before.  After a joyous greeting he took some pictures and wished me the best of luck on my continued journey.

A few miles later another fellow called me over to the beach.  He was Coast Guard and had an official coastguard car.  He wanted to make sure everything was okay.  It was, thanks Italian Coastguard!

I passed the mouth of a flowing river and was soon at my destination, Cariati.  It turned out the dock I parked on was locked by a gate, so I hopped over it and had a look around.

The previous Lega Navale was supposed to have called ahead, but maybe they couldn’t find anyone.  Oh well.

I hopped back over the fence to rejoin my boat and get my things together for the evening.  The Lega Navale president and a fellow from the coast guard came.  They were expecting me.

We went to a boatyard where a number of beautiful brand new wooden boats of all sizes were in various stages of construction.  The builder offered to help me with my paddle, and even read and follow the instructions.

I’ll be here for a few days while I build a better paddle.  I’m leaving my boat in the high security coast guard compound.  The Lega Navale is putting me up in a hotel.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3334,3333,3332,3331,3330,3329,3328,3327,3326,3325,3324,3323,3322,3321,3320,3319,3318"]


Nautical miles paddled:  15

Total since Naples: 406.5

Current location:  39.505001,16.940327


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tuffo di Capodanno


After I had written my post yesterday and resolved myself to sleeping in a boat garage, I tried one last time to call Antonio Gallella, the president of the local Lega Navale.

Sure, he would be happy to host me.  Ten minutes later, after walking through the downpour, I met him at the Lega Navale’s building.  He brought me a bag of bread and cheese and pear juice.  I got to to use their hot shower.  And I took cushions off of the couch to sleep like a king.

“Tomorrow, stay.  We celebrate the new year with Tuffo di Capodanno.  Come join us.”

Slow as my pace is, I’m ready to slow it down even more until my replacement paddle arrives.  I agreed to stay and join their celebration.

The celebration is a community event.  Around 11:00 the next morning, members of the Lega Navale, their friends, family, and a marching band showed up.

With great music and pomp the lot of us marched around the corner to the beach.  

An ambulance and a couple of paramedics waited there for us.

And those who were tough enough to take a lead role changed into bathing suits and ran into the sea.  I just wore my shorts.  We swam.

The sun poured its warmth on us and it was a wonderful day for a swim.  Apparently the others weren’t as acclimated, because before I really got into the fun of it, people were already rushing back out.

A bonfire roared.  Photographers practiced their art on family and the crowd, and everyone smiled.  The band resumed and we marched back to the Lega Navale for wine and cake.

Gifts were presented to everyone who swam including a t shirt, a certificate of accomplishment, and a bottle of wine.  As a guest I received my goodie bag first.  The president of the Lega Navale presented it very officialy with a speech and lots of people took pictures as I accepted the bag.

Tomorrow I kayak.  I’ll take the good cheer of Tuffo di Capodanno forward with me.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day 91


I paddled on flat water through the rain.  I am not yet accustomed to paddling more than a short distance with my storm paddle.  It’s at least half a knot slower over long distances than my former winged paddle.  My shoulders ached.

I shot past a purple rimed jelly fish  at least a foot in diameter.  I back paddled but it was diving and then away.

I pulled into Ciro marina.  Some fishermen helped me move my boat into a warehouse and told me I could spend the night in the clean fishing boat next to my kayak.

It was my understanding that the Lega Navale here would host me, but I haven’t seen anything except for a closed building.  I tried calling, but no answer.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep paddling with my spare, or take a break until another one arrives from my folks in America.  In the mean time though, I don’t have anywhere safe to leave my boat while I wait, so I press on.

It’s been pouring all evening.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3281,3282,3283,3284,3285,3286,3287"]


Nautical miles paddled: 8

Total since Naples: 391.5

Current location:  39.367848,17.13457

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 90


Yesterday, just as my day was ending, my paddle snapped.  Could I risk paddling without a spare?  I had another one in America.  I wondered if Nelo would be willing to replace the one that broke.  I doubted it.  Should I make another Greenland paddle?  If so, storm or full length?

I was in a city, Crotone.  It might be a while before I’m in a population center again.  It seemed like I should take advantage of the local infrastructure and replace it.

I asked the Lega Navale dock hand if I could stay a few days while I resolved the problem.  He wasn’t sure and would get back to me.

I walked to the boat repair garage and dry dock next door. With some difficulty, I explained to the manager that I wanted another paddle like the one I showed him.  Could I please use his tools to make it.

No, he would make it.  It wouldn’t be a problem.  In his shop he had to small white squarish plastic paddles that looked about right for a bathtub toy.  He would cut a piece of wood to connect them and I’d be on my way in no time.

“No!”  For a moment words failed me.  “Hydrodynamica importante.” I said. “Tutto millimeter importante. Io canoa Cipro, molti mile.” [Hydrodynamica important.  All millimeter important. I canoe Cyprus, many mile.]

We walked into the garage to look at his selection of wood.  It appeared as though it was entirely composed of pieces that he’d taken out of other boats of had washed up in the harbor.  Most of them had rusty nails jutting out.

“Cedar.  Where can we get cedar?”


“If I get the wood can you do it?  I’ll give you instructions.”

“Come back in half an hour.  I’ll have it ready.  Two Euro.”  He told me.

“I don’t think it can be done in under eight hours.”  I tried.  He didn’t seem to understand that he was holding a work of art. “It’s very careful work.”

Maybe he did understand.  After all, I wasn’t very much of an artist.  He pointed out every blemish and mistake in the paddle.  Some happened when I was painstakingly carving the six sides into the wood at exact angles, and some were the results of various beatings it had taken since then.

I tried explaining my needs one more time, but he walked off muttering something about Americans.

I returned to the Lega Navale.  The president asked me if I would be leaving.  I said I didn’t know.  I had to figure out what I needed to do about my paddle.

“Today the weather is good.  Tomorrow it will rain.  I can call ahead to the next Lega Navale and tell them you’re coming.”  He said.

I was being politely asked to move along.

“So will you leave?”


By the time I was packed and ready it was 10:00.  If I didn’t launch then I would lose my daylight window.  The dockhand approached me with a friend as I was making final preparations.

The friend spoke to me in what I think was French for a little while before I told him I’m American.

“Oh, American.  I can help you make a paddle.”  He said.

I showed him mine.

“I need to go back to my shop to make sure I have enough materials.  It will take a half an hour.  Can you wait?”

I couldn’t, not unless this would really work.  I had to find out.  “Do you have a band saw?”

He had a look that suggested he didn’t know what a band saw was.  It was the key to quickly manufacturing a paddle like mine.  “Yes, yes.”  He told me he had one.

He continued, “ But can you wait here while I check to make sure I have enough aluminum?”

I was fed up.  “I don’t get it.  Are you punishing me!?  You steal my things, again and again.  You break my paddle, and now, adding insult to injury, you torture me with insanity!”

I was on the water using my storm paddle and screaming loudly into the formidable and completely unforecast headwind.

“Yes, this is a punishment.”

“What for?”  I asked.

“Why can’t you just get in line like everybody else?  When you finished high school, did you go to college?  No, you went to study Judaism in a yeshiva and from there the IDF.  When you finally did go to college, did you pick a practical major?  No, you chose math even though you failed it in high school.  Apparently you had something to prove to yourself.  And when somehow you persevered the gauntlet, did you go get a job in your field of choice?  No, you went kayaking.  And now you have the gall to ask why this is happening to you.  You dug this grave, good luck paddling out of it.”

My shoulders ached.  My storm paddle was fine for a couple of hours of paddling on a lake.  I had never tested it in conditions.  I didn’t know how much the wind was slowing me down, but at two knots, I suspected that at least half a knot of the 1.5 reduction could be attributed to my paddle.

Grad school hadn’t gone so well.  My academic advisor suggested I pursue a career in something other than math.  Ranger school came with its own set of troubles.  My summer job as head lifeguard at a camp could have been worse, but they undoubtedly will not rehire me.

I was kayaking with piece of wood I cut myself on a freezing cold day  in a hole on the face of the earth feeling like I was at the end of my rope.

I put my small package of crackers down on my chafing skirt.  A wave washed over my deck and it was lost.

Little did I know, Jesus would save me.

I pushed forward into the wind.  I would not make it to my destination for the day.  In fact, I wanted very much to stop at the next opportunity.

I passed the mouth of a wide river,  I saw a factory in the distance along the banks.  Frigid water poured down my paddle onto my arms until I finished passing the mouth.*

Swampy scrubs grew thick behind a short beach.  A jeep drove along the beach, pulling ahead of me then stopping.  The driver loaded driftwood into the back, and then continued on his way to repeat the process.

It rained.  And kept on raining.

I saw a town far off.

I asked the driver, keeping pace with me, how far it would be.  I figured at least three or four miles.

“Uno kilometer.”  He called back over the clash of the surf.

It looked much farther.  But it wasn’t.  Before long I paddled around a bend and there was the beginning of the town above a long beach.

I took out near some fishing boats.

Walking up the beach I nearly puked from exhaustion.

I changed as quickly as I could into dry clothing and the shivering gradually subsided.

I leaned my kayak against a wall.  If not well hidden at least it was discrete.  And a fisherman thought it would be fine.**

I found a bar.  They didn’t have internet access, or even toilet paper to clean my glasses.  When the bartender saw me trying to clean them with a waxy napkin he handed me a real one.  I saw a poker game in back.  This was not a good place.

But I needed to sit and rest.  And as I did we began to talk.  A man treated me to a chocolate croissant.  We talked a little more.  The folk in the bar took out their smart phones to look at my blog.  One fellow looked up the next day’s weather for me.

We went to move my kayak and gear somewhere safer:  The churchyard.

Oh, and the people in the church were happy to let me stay in there warm guest apartment.  There was a hot shower.  The cubbies were full of food.  I cut up an onion and some garlic and made myself some spaghetti sauce on the stove.

I was warm, clean, and happy.  There were Jesus and Mary statues and pictures on every wall.  I wasn’t supposed to talk in the hallways.  But they made no effort to proselytize, which is more than I can say for chabad.  

When a couple of my hostesses made my bed, they did it with unparalleled speed and precision.  If bed making were a sport, they would have been allstars.

After lying in bed for twenty minutes, I sprinted to puke into the toilet.  I heaved but nothing came up.  It had been a long day.

It takes more than a shower, bed, and meal to get me to change religions.  I have enough troubles with my own peoples wild stories, I’m certainly not about to adopt someone else's.  But all the good will got me thinking about the fundamental concepts that our people share in common.

My ravings against the sea were left far behind.

*A Greenland storm paddle is much shorter than a traditional kayak paddle, and the paddling stroke is different. Doing it right means your arms get soaked. ~ed

**Don’t worry, it wasn’t stolen. 

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3275,3278,3279,3280"]


Nautical miles paddled: 10

Total since Naples: 383.5

Current location: 39.246224,17.109527


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day 89

Friday I settled in on a beach in Cap Rizzuto.  Some stairs wound up a steep bushy hill face that was behind the beach.  The people in the house at the top were friendly and all smiles, but that was the extent of there hospitality.

I charged my gear using an outlet towards the rear of their garden near the stairs.  I watched as a cloud front moved towards land sprinkling lightning into the sea.

A storm was coming.  I asked the owner of the house for permission to sleep under the shelter of the awning over his porch.  I explained that I could sleep in the rain since I had a bivi sack, but I prefered not to depend on it.

He agreed.  And after a Sabbath dinner by myself, I slept soundly.  

The rain never came.  And the next morning, the father of the owner of the house, who had been friendly the day before, told me to get.  I was allowed to be down at the beach, but not up near the house.

I didn’t know if this was because the family thought I had lied about the rain, or he just didn’t know that I had permission to be up on the patio, but he felt I had somehow betrayed him and I needed to be gone.

I paddled this morning into a headwind that steadily grew stronger.  I asked some fishermen on a boat if it would last all day, and they said it would get better in the afternoon.

The coast was a mix of cliffs and beaches.  The cliffs frequently proffered interesting rock gardens.  In some places stones broke the surface over a hundred feet out.

At the center of the bay there was a rocky outcropping.  At the top of that outcropping was square stone mansion with a drawbridge.  I suspect it was hundreds of years old.  On the point at the end of the bay there was a similarly old fortification and a lighthouse that looked out from over a squat cliff.

Under the cliff I sang a song.  When I finished I heard from above me more singing.  And not just one voice, a whole choir.  When I paddled farther away I saw a church up there.

After crossing a bay, I arrived in Crotone.  Crotone is the largest city I’ve been in since Regio Calabria. From the lighthouse I could already see the cluster of apartment buildings.

In the port I found a large Lega Navale with kids sailing tiny training sail boats into the port only moments after I made my own entrance.  The fellow who was in charge told me they had a hot shower and that I was welcome to use it.

The rule for my continued training used to be that I roll every time I go out.  Over time I have modified it.  I roll every time I go out if I know when my next hot shower will be.  Lately, I haven’t had that many opportunities.  But here in welcoming LNI, I could roll.

My paddle snapped.  The water was murky, but I saw the larger half float to the top while the blade and broken bit of shaft slowly began to sink.

I reached forward and released my homemade spare paddle from the bungees and deck lines that secured it.  I triumphantly finished the roll.  I completed a roll in which my paddle snapped, and felt like the stuff of legend.

I dumped myself out of the boat and tore my life jacket off.  Just as my blade disappeared into the murky depths of the port I dived down after it.

It was really cold down there.  I didn’t find it.  A true hero would have.

I swam back to my boat, flipped it upside down, entered it underwater, and rolled back up with my storm paddle, no longer a spare.

The showers here are really hot.  The people are very friendly.  I’ll sleep inside tonight with everything I could want in life, except for a spare paddle.

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Nautical miles paddled: 17

Total since naples: 373.5

Current location: 39.079587,17.13549


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Day 88


Yesterday force seven winds beat against the coast and howled between the masts all day.  The sea had transformed into a ferocious beast.

The sky was dark and the rain broke through in the evening and poured deep into the night.  But by morning, the sky cleared and the wind spent.  The sea was still a little rough, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

I launched and began my 22-mile paddle by crossing a three-mile bay.  There were small waves rolling across medium waves rolling across large waves.  They all seemed to be going in different directions at different times.

And sometimes, they all lined up in sets of towering waves.  One set of waves broke at the top just as I was up there and washed water over my skirt.  

My skirt was closed.  I think I found a way to reduce the chafing by rolling up the inverted tube so that my pants are below and not under it.  This has caused my pants to fall down twice now while exiting the cockpit, but underneath the skirt I can discretely remedy the situation.

I was bracing every few minutes and I had to pee but didn’t want to stop.

As I rounded a sheer cliff peninsula the waves grew ferocious.  Ahead of me I could see them, at least seven or eight feet high, breaking far away from the rocks and hurling white watery death against the cliffs.  If I got caught by one of those without my helmet and rocket pack I’d have a problem.  My helmet is in Tel Aviv and I don’t own a rocket pack.

I gave them a wide berth.  Once around the corner of the peninsula I found myself being jostled along and angled towards the cliffs.  I was not comfortable.  I expected the cliffs to continue along the coast for the rest of the day, so when I saw a beach in an inlet guarded by a medieval tower, I took the opportunity to get off the water.

The people in the house above the beach were happy to let me stay on the beach for the weekend, and while walking the roughly 10 kilometers to the super market, I found the friendly people at Pizzeria la Quercia, and they were happy to let me use their wifi connection.

Nautical miles paddled: 3

Total since Naples: 356.5

Current location:  38.898519,17.095483


Saturday, January 4, 2014


I slept in a boat and stored my gear in one of the ports buildings.  I wanted to store my boat inside also, but I was assured it would be safe where it was.

When I went to pack everything up in the morning, my computer, camera, spare batteries, and backup GPS had been stolen.

I told the port’s captain what had happened.  He had good news for me.  Everything was recorded on camera.  The fellow who had access to the camera however would only arrive in a few hours.

I took a nap.

Two hours later the captain woke me up.  He found my things.

We climbed up to a boat in dry dock on the other side of the port.  The captain told me that had searched all the boats in dry dock and found my gear in this one.

If he had started at the beginning of the line, then this would have been the fifteenth or so boat he had searched in the hour and a half I had been napping.  I guess it was lucky that the boat the thief had stored my computer in was unlocked.

All the pictures on my camera from the cliffs, waterfalls, extensive rock gardens, and castle of the previous day had been deleted as well as a song that I performed in front of the castle on the subject of how wonderful kayaking in southern Italy is.  The language on my camera was set to Italian.

Dear President Obama,

Please obliterate southern Italy.  Almost as bad as the theft is the ample side serving of lies that come with the help I receive in recovering my items.


Dov Neimand


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 87


This morning I launched from the beach. Luigi and a friend of his were watching so I took the time to do it right. I studied the waves. The big waves were coming in groups of three or four. When there was a lull, I put my boat down in the near the water. My shoes were covered in sand, but I wanted to get my launch right so I shoved them into my cockpit as they were. With all speed, I attached my spray skirt. Without a moment to spare, a wave came in and picked me up.

I was waterborn. Before the next wave could push me back into the sand I sprinted towards the open water. I crashed through three breaking waves before I was free of the surf zone.

I waved to Luigi, proud that when I set my mind to it, I can make a perfect beach launch.

With my dry top on for the cold dark rainy day my skirt didn't chafe. It did still push me a touch farther back in my seat than I'm comfortable with. I kept the skirt on until the early afternoon when I paddled into flat waters.

The wind and waves blew in from the northeast, and mainland to the north and a peninsula to the east sheltered me.

The peninsula itself was walled by the first sea cliffs I'd seen in a few days. Streams, no doubt a result of the morning's rain, cascaded down the valleys. Rocks rose out of the sea near the cliffs and I paddled in between them to be in the position for best admiration.

At the end of the peninsula rose an enormous castle on an island. In addition to a huge tower and crenelations, I could see into smaller rooms through the collapsing walls.

Past the castle the wind and waves picked up. But I was full of energy and charged into two meter swells, one after another, exhilarated by the challenge and the excitement of the booming surf around me. It helped that it was the last 100 meters before the port. I sang loudly as I surfed a wave into the flat calm, safe harbor here in Le Castella.

When I finished unpacking I turned my boat upside down to keep the rain out. I inspected the hull. It was pock marked as though it had been hit by shrapnel. These were not kayaking wounds from today. Kayaking wounds are scratches that result from something sharp sliding against the hull. Theses were the results of some trauma that happened to the boat while it was stolen.

The holes were deeper than the gel coating and pierced the carbon fiber, though not all the way through. I'll have to try to find epoxy to fix it.


Nautical miles paddled:  11

Total since Naples: 353.5

Current location:  38.911397,17.027113


Sorry, no pictures.  The reason will be in the next post so stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Manhunt Part III


When I stored my boat in the forest yesterday afternoon, it was with Mario’s blessing.  Mario is the pseudonym of the fellow who picked me up five hours late on Friday.  His cousins owned the property, it should be safe back in the woods.

This morning I woke up, checked the weather, checked facebook, and then went to my boat.  On facebook I had received the following message:

“ieri pomeriggio ho visto un ragazzo a piedi scalzi vicino un supermercato.... oggi vicino la mia spiaggia in pineta abbiamo trovato un kayak... facendo delle ricerche sembrerebbe il tuo se vuoi contattarci il n รจ 3288276345”

[Yesterday afternoon I saw a guy walking barefoot near a supermarket .... today in the woods near my beach we found a kayak ... doing research would seem your if you want to contact the n is 5558276345]

Apparently I come up high enough on Google searches that a few clues and a boat on the woods are enough to find me, cool.

I walked from the bed and breakfast to the woods.  I took some pictures on the way and went over a song in my head that I hoped to perform for this blog on the subject of how wonderful my trip is.

When I found my kayak and all of my gear missing, I stopped feeling that way.

This was my second crime scene since graduating from ranger academy.  This time there was quite a bit more to work with.  The pine forest behind the dunes was grassy with a sandy dirt jeep trail running through it.

Before approaching the spot where my boat had been, I took out my camera.

There were footprints.  I took pictures of two sets of fresh prints in the area as well as jeep tracks that went up onto the grass where my boat had been.  I broke a stick off to save the exact width of the tracks.

I called Mario.  He sounded hung over with only marginal levels of consciousness.  He would come by to help me in the afternoon.

I found a man on the beach carrying a bundle of driftwood back to his car.  He had not seen anything.  I found a pretty lady with an enormous dreadlock-mangy-explosive-bundle-of-love dog and another smaller meaner short haired one.

She didn’t know what happened to my kayak, but she did invite me to her Christmas party.  I don’t celebrate christmas. I think of the oppressive department store musical barrages and neighborhood celebrations in gaudiness as symbols of the roughly two thousand years of oppression my people have suffered at the hands of the church.  But, I was happy to consider her invitation because I needed smiles.

In fact, I think that if Jesus showed up at that moment and offered me a smile and redemption if accepted his faith, then I probably would have.  But he didn’t.

I went to the owner of the property, Mario's cousins.  They lived in a a big red house between the woods and a farm about a ten minute walk from the scene of the crime.  Maybe it wasn’t a crime scene.  Maybe they found it and moved it for safe keeping.

Mario had told me that his cousins spoke English.  And so they did.  Valerie and Max are a sweet older couple.  They only bickered a little.  

They had not seen my kayak.  But they did call Mario and told him to get his butt over there.  They also called Mickey, their son and the owner of the B&B that was hosting me.

Valery, English, also sat me down with some hot tea and milk while I struggled with planning a route through the challenges ahead of me.

Miki arrived and asked me “What did happen to your kayak?”

Valery cut in.  “What happened to your kayak?” she corrected her son.

I must have been feeling better because I laughed.  My mind was further calmed when we set into action.  We went to reexamine the crime scene.  We found the jeep tracks from the crime scene all over the dunes.  Someone had ended their joy ride of habitat destruction with a kayak theft.

We also found more tracks on the other side of the crime scene.  These were in the grass.  The blades were still bent and had sand on top of them, further indicating that they were recent and not randomly left there before the incident.

There was one last clue to follow up on.  Someone had looked at my boat yesterday and found me on google to say hi.  They left me there phone number.  I had prepared three questions to ask them.

What time did you see my boat?

Was everything neatly put away, or disturbed?

Did you see anyone joy riding a jeep through the dunes?

The last of course had a number of obvious follow up questions.

Mario had arrived, so he made the call for me.  I didn’t understand everything he was saying, and I didn’t even hear the other end of the conversation, but it didn’t sound like he was asking the questions I had prepared.

“We have your kayak.”  He told me.  The man at the other end of the phone was working, so I could only pick it up in the afternoon.  He told Mario that he had taken it because he was worried someone might take it, and so he thought it should be protected.

I waited Miki’s office and read about kayaking as the afternoon came closer.  Miki wasn’t there.  A chunky Indian man came in because he was curious.

“I don’t speak italian,” I told him.

“Where are you from?” He asked me.


“I love Americans!  America has money and jobs.  Italian are racist.  America has many colors.  Look at Obama!  Italians are all mafia.”

I had made a lot of friends here in southern Italy and part of me wanted to say good things about the people here.  But most of me didn’t.  Without too much help the crazy Indian ranted for another twenty minutes or so before showing himself out.

The people who had my boat and gear arranged to meet us at the shopping center.  When they showed up, they looked like a couple of older hippies.  They had driven my boat to the mall on the roof of their car very slowly without tying it down.

I was not as gracious as I usually try to be, but nicer than they probably deserved.  I even smile as they took pictures of me posing with them next to the boat.

The hull is damaged with pock marks that tear through the gel coating and some of the carbon fiber.  Hopefully I’ll be able to partially repair it.

All is well that ends well.  I only lost another day.

Hopefully once Christmas is over random people will stop trying so hard to give me shoes.