Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fickle Finger of Fate

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009. On Wednesdays I get off from work early in the afternoon, about 2:30. Today happens to be a very beautiful day. And I have time to get in a couple of hours kayaking before the sun goes down early in these short fall days. I drove down to the beach and launched my kayak. Today is a very special day. To understand why this day is special I must bring you back to Wednesday, October 21st. For that is the last time I was paddling on my kayak. I had a good paddle and returned home. Thursday passed and Friday dawned a typical cool fall day.

Leaving my apartment in the dark (we have not yet set the clocks back to standard time) I walked to my car as I have for the last 15 years. And for the last two years the sight of my kayak atop my car has greeted me. But today was different. Through in the early morning gloom, broken by the dappled streetlight coming through the trees, I could see that my kayak was not where it should be. Coming closer I found my tie-downs lying cut on the ground and my kayak gone. My jaw dropped. I could not believe it. It was stolen was my first thought. Then partial denial set in. Maybe some kids in the neighborhood were playing a prank. They took it off the car but surely it was just tossed over the fence or hidden behind the dumpster. But there was no immediate sign.

First action was to call into work and say I could not be in. The dispatchers said I must, as they had no one to cover my routes. Even the Supervisors were out doing routes this day. Typical, everyone wants to have Friday off, leaving no one to cover for emergencies.

So I called the Police and made a preliminary report over the phone. That is about all that can be done accept in the case of real emergencies. I then drove into work and ended up being only three minutes late. A supervisor clocked me in so my lateness did not show up in the system, which would require written acknowledgment of my tardiness.

Later in the day Officer Cairncross of the SDPD Eastern Division contacted me. She took a full report and told me that a Detective would be in touch with me in a couple of days, as soon as the case was assigned. I also called my Insurance agent and Neighborhood Watch person.

On Sunday my Neighborhood Watch person contacted me. She informed me she had observed a suspicious person she knew of having possibly committed other thefts in the area. So this might be a possible lead. I told her that as soon as I knew whom the investigating detective was I would let her know.

On Monday I spoke with Detective Guffy about my kayak. She gave me some ideas about possible recovery. Such as looking on Craigslist and checking used sporting good stores. I did both. And eventually would call some of the swap meets and dive shops that sometimes sell used equipment and gave them the heads up. Colby’s Swap meet was very helpful. They said they would look out for it. Having a serial number stamped on it helped very much. Colby’s said that they have in the passed caught people selling stolen goods. And go as far as detaining people that have purchased stolen goods (though they are not arrested) until police get there. That was comforting to know.

I found no Scrambler XL on Craigslist. But I did locate some potential replacements in case mine was not recovered. Something that Detective Guffy did not think too likely. Meanwhile I also put the word out on Divebums to keep an eye out at the beach, especially if someone approached them with a blue Scrambler XL for sale. According to John Moore that is potentially 800 pairs of eyes on the lookout for my kayak.

The worse part of all this was that in a week some friends of my Cousin Dana were coming out from North Carolina and were avid kayakers and wanted to go out. They were very excited about being out here and kayaking. They had never seen seals or sealions and were looking forward to it. I e-mailed them and said I had had a little problem with my kayak, but that we would still go. I would just rent one. Why could not this thief have waited until after they came?

Well, the week prior to my planned kayak excursion the weather had not been all that great. Some large surf and heavy winds. But I put in a requisitions for perfect kayaking weather and told my friends to "Touch wood, scratch a stay, turn three times, and may the Lord and Saints preserve us." (An old Nautical charm).
Saturday, October 31st arrived. I went to the beach early and checked out conditions. My request had been granted. It was flat; ankle-slappers were all that touched the shore. Just a slight breath of wind to keep you cool.
I met Rich and his son Tyler at Starbucks. I got a cup of coffee; we picked up some water for the paddle and headed down to The Shores.

We parked main lot and walked down the beach. We got our kayaks from OE Express. This is me (in the Blue PFD and white hat). Yellow kayaks! It 's just not my color.

Launched and headed over to Marine Room to see the Leopard Sharks. Crystal clear water, teaming with dozens of the skittish creatures. Spent some time viewing them and headed over to the caves to observe the sealions. Explored a few of the caves and watched the sealions. Just a few sleeping in the early morning sun, rather quiet.
Rich Tyler

From there we paddled north around the (now unmarked) swim zone leading out of La Jolla Cove. And pointed our bows westward to the far kelp beds past the
Children’s Pool. Made it out there.
Told Rich & Tyler what little I know about the ecology of the kelp beds. Then we headed back to La Jolla Shores. Took one quick detour for a last look at the Leopards Sharks and headed to the beach. Such non-existent surf that we didn’t even get the rush of riding some one to two footers into shore. But they really had a blast.

On the way back from eating lunch we stopped by and had a look at the Jack-o-Lanterns form the Underwater Pumpkin Carving contest. I liked the Jack-o-Lantern that was eating another, smaller Jack-o-Lantern.

Friday I had received my initial insurance check. And when I get a replacement I would get the remainder of the cost, minus my deductible. I spent Monday looking for a replacement kayak. I was not able to find a used Scrambler XL. This one fits my needs for diving perfectly. Ocean Kayak has a new model, The Scrambler 11 that replaces the XL. I may have to get that. It has one feature that effects my use as a diving platform. The rear carrying handle is a hard plastic handle that goes across the rear tank well. Thus making it difficult to slide your dive gear out the rear. But otherwise it has all the features of the Scrambler XL.

Tuesday, and it has been ten days since the theft of my kayak. Detective Guffy indicated that the likelihood of recovering it is small. And I don’t think that she has been able to talk with the Neighborhood watch person to check into the possible lead. So it appears that I have lost my kayak.

Wonders of Wonders!!!!! I came home after my morning routes and there was a message on my recorder. The Police had found my kayak! I called the number and the Detective said that he could meet me in 20 minutes at the Eastern Division on Aero Drive and return my kayak to me.

Turns out they had an on-going investigation of a auto theft ring in Serra Mesa. And when they went into the residence to look for stolen motorcycles a blue kayak was found among the stolen bikes. One of the Detectives saw the serial number and punched it into his computer. Up popped my Police report and I was called. I drove over, the Detectives met me, let me in, helped me load my kayak, and I drove off one very happy kayak diver. Called my insurance agent and canceled the claim and reimbursement check. Best $150 I never got.

And so today was a very special day. Because I was out in the flat, crystal clear ocean on My very own blue Scrambler XL, perfect for diving and paddling.

Lessons learned; Put some kind of identification number on everything you own.

Don't get complacent. I always used to lock my kayak. Until one day I dropped my cable at the boat launch and did not realize it until I got home. Not wanting to drive back I decided I would buy another one. Days, weeks and then months pass and my kayak is still on my car. Parked all over town, while at work, diving, visiting friends, it never got stolen. One and a half years it was up there without being locked. Then one day I got up for work and it was gone. A crime of opportunity. And I allowed that opportunity. NOT AGAIN !!! Fool me once...etc.
So that is the story. As for the guys who did it. They know who they are and where they live. If they are not now in jail they soon will be. With the cost of my kayak being over $400 it is a felony. And it will just add to the charges of Grand Theft Auto.

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