Economics 101, a Novel, ch_23 -- Searching for That Which Shall Not Be Found

[The almost-final draft of this chapter is here:]

(The story starts here: previous chapter is here:

So, while Karel and Bobbie are trying to secure their situation on the island, is anyone looking for them? Of course. Bog standard procedure, nothing really exciting, but they are looking -- just not in the right place. And there's a reason for that.

Let's see who all gets involved in the search, and how.

You may wonder what the Coast Guard did with Zedidiah and Wycliffe's plane.

For one thing, the Coast Guard is not a salvage company. Their first job is to see to the safety of those who operate in the sea, as much as is possible. In this case, the plane was not an immediate danger to ships, or fishing.

And they don't have unlimited budget and personnel. Salvage operations consume a fair amount of resources and expertise.

On the other hand, the Eastern Crane did have did have industrial duty cranes, winches and flotation devices, with crew trained to use them, in spite of it being named for the bird rather the hoist.

And there would be the cost and time delay and the difficulty in continuing the investigation if they waited for a salvage ship.

So economic issues definitely come into play, here.

On board the Eastern Crane, the investigating officer summarized his notes:

"Okay, according to what you are telling me, your partner had apparently planned on urging your passengers to take a little vacation on the way back, on an island where you and some of the other charter pilots keep fuel and other emergency resources." And the Island Coast Guard investigator named the island.

"That's right."

"And you had told him you didn't agree with the plan."


"But he radioed you about six hours from his departure time, to tell you that he had prevailed upon them to take the vacation."

"That's correct."

"That's a fair distance by radio."

"We regularly use a distance band when running the longer flights, of course."

"And you were unable to contact him afterwards."

"I kept trying up until I left our base island with Matt."

At this point, another officer came into the cabin and there was some discussion.

"Whoever put this plane down knew what he was doing."

"Wycliffe knows our plane like the back of his hand."

"Apparently so. Just from what we've been able to check so far, there is no real damage to the structure. The only reason we can find for it coming down is running out of fuel. We'd like to put the plane on land to check it over more carefully. We may be sufficiently equipped to tow it to the nearest island now."

"I think I would like to do that."

"We will ask you to pay towing fees, and there may be damage incurred. And it remains your responsibility to properly dispose of it when we're done."

"I'm okay with that."

"Now we may find that our tools are not the right ones for the job. And it may be easier, and less damaging anyway, to have a salvage company take it straight to island you operate out of."

"Can I help float it and hook it up for the tow? I'm the one who usually maintains the plane, and I can show your crew the best places to set the floats and hook up the lines."

"We can do that."

So they radioed Matt at the cache island, and he said he could wait.

They got the floats under the strongest points in the wings and fuselage and inflated them enough to start towing without tearing the wings off the body, and got started. They took it slow, to avoid any further damage, and arrived at the island about a bit before midnight. They had to wade almost shoulder deep into the water to push the plane towards shore, and when the floats dragged on the sea floor, they deflated them and pushed the plane the rest of the way out of the water on its landing gear.

The Island Coast Guard officers performed a few more checks by flashlight, spent some time checking the cache and the beach, and then returned to their ship with Zedidiah and Matt. And they informed Zedidiah that, as he was a material witness, he could participate in the search, but, other than that, he was to remain on his base island.

Matt radioed some of their friends, and the The Coast Guard and police also called for volunteers, and, in the morning on Tuesday, three planes and another small ship left with about twenty volunteers total. And the police took care of contacting the university.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, they were able to search the whole island. They found no signs of anyone being on the island since the rain, and no signs of the cache being disturbed.

At that point, the initial search was terminated, and all the volunteers went home. Zedidiah opened his and Wycliffe's office for the police to examine Thursday morning while waiting for the Professor, the Pratts, and the Whitmers to arrive.

(The link to the next chapter will be here when it's ready.

(The chapter index is here:

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