A followup story without a happy ending

“On November 29, 2014, I received a phone call from an officer of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission named John Beardsley. He was investigating a missing boater, he said, and explained that some duck hunters had found a canoe and that my phone number had turned up among the gear in the boat. He wanted to know where it had come from — he hoped, in fact, that I might be the canoeist. It took me a second or two to realize that the boat must have been Dick Conant’s. It had come practically from Canada, I explained — from Plattsburgh, New York, 20 miles south of the border….

“I explained to Officer Beardsley that I was a journalist, and that I had written a short article (in this magazine) about Conant’s ambitious voyage [to Florida]….

“The canoe had been spotted floating upside down near the mouth of Big Flatty Creek, by a father who was fishing with his young boy and feared what they might discover if they drew their boat any closer. Big Flatty discharges into the not so flat brackish waters of Albemarle Sound, about 20 miles west of the Outer Banks….

“Among the canoe’s contents were 17 toothbrushes, three Louis L’Amour Western novels, a frying pan, a digital camera, and some soggy stapled papers, on the back of which I’d written my e-mail address and phone number, more than 400 miles up the coast….”

— From “The Wayfarer: A solitary canoeist meets his fate” by Ben McGrath in the New Yorker (Dec. 14)