Last year, when we started our circumnavigation of Sardinia, our very first camp site was on a little beach behind the Marina Piccola at Poetto, on the outskirts of Cagliari.
In the morning Wendy left on foot to buy or find something, I don’t remember what, and took her time. When she came back, she had met another kayaker who had offered her a coffee and was on his way around to meet us.
Roberto Durzu came to the beach paddling a yellow plastic kayak. We had a nice chat and took some photographs together as we took down camp and got ready to start. Roberto followed us for a while, maybe half an hour or so, before he turned back home after a different morning paddle.
Roberto later commented on the blog, and he wrote later still asking for advice on buying a new kayak, and about what he ended up buying.
Now as I’m back here in Sardinia, I hear that Roberto died a short while ago when out paddling his newly bought kayak.
He went out with a group of friends, but after an hour they decided to return, as the weather got much rougher than they had bargained for. On the return trip Roberto paddled last, at a distance of circa 50m, and at some point he disappeared. His friends searched for his as they best could in the waves, but had to give up, paddle back and sound the alarm.
The search teams located Roberto’s kayak fairly quickly, capsized but with the paddle inside. They later found his hat and a shoe. The body of Roberto was only found the next day at some distance.
Apparently, the cause of death hasn’t been determined yet. There are two hypotheses around. One is that he capsized in the waves and got separated from the kayak before he was able to reenter, the other that he had a heart attack, either before or after a capsize. He had a heart attack four years ago.
Roberto was 52, and leaves his wife and two children of 14 and 15.
Of course it is not the first we hear such a story, and probably not the last either, but the impact is so much stronger when its somebody you’ve met and knew, even if only superficially.
I still have Roberto’s number on my phone, and had planned to call him as I approached Cagliari, so we could meet for a chat. I didn’t manage to meet him last year as I passed Cagliari. Now I have to search for a cemetary instead.
Its all very sad.