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Duck Hunting on the Kafue Print E-mail
Written by Hartley Heaton   
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 11:23

One early morning three of us, Jeff Mauritzen, Daryl Higgins and I set of for the marina near the Kafue bridge. We were in my Ford Falcon pickup towing my Kafue Reinforced Plastics red dory. It was our plan that we would go up river to the Kafue Flats looking for ducks for dinner.

We launched the boat just as the Sun was rising and it was becomming light. Loaded everything into the boat, including 4 fuel tanks for the 65hp Johnson I had on the back of the boat. Once everything was loaded we set off under the road bridge and then the rail bridge on our way to the flats. I seem to remember that we were wraped up so it was possibly either winter or not far from it.

Once we got to the flats we were looking for a suitable place to go away from the main river into the areas of water on each side of the river. For those who never had the joy of going to the Kafue Flats there is a main stream, the Kafue, with high reeds along each bank. There are places where you can force your way through the reeds, often required climbing out and walking the boat through, but once you cleared the reeds there were some rather large 'lakes' where the fishing was great and it was also where the ducks hung around.

Looking for a suitable place to head into the flats Daryl was standing on the front of the boat holding onto the front tie rope. We were heading up the river on the plane doing something like 25mph when the fuel tank ran dry. The engine coughed and spluttered and the boat slowed considerably. Daryl, standing on the front, was thrown forward, the small amount of fuel left in the tank sloshed around, the fuel was picked up and the engine burst into life. This all happened over a period of 3 or 4 seconds. I had seen Daryl dissapear over the front of the boat but by the time I had managed to grab the throttle control and pull it back we had gone completely over him and he was in the water behind us.

The engine had cut out and I had to change tanks before I could get it running again and get back to pick up Daryl. Yes we had life jackets on the boat but did we wear them? No. Jeff threw a life jacket to Daryl, I got the boat running and went around to pick him up.

When we pulled him on board we discovered that he was leaking rather a lot. As the boat went over him the prop did a good job of slicing into his buttocks leaving two or three very deep cuts.

Major panic. We were about 2 hours away from the marina and a further half hour or so from the hospital in Lusaka. I set off back up river as fast as the boat would go, Jeff tried his best to stop the bleeding but we we had very little with us in the way of first aid supplies.

Getting back to the marina I tied up the boat and had a word with the owner, to say I would be back later to collect the boat, put Daryl into the vehicle and set off for the Hospital in Lusaka. We took him into A&E where they disinfected the cuts and stitched them up before releasing him a couple of hours later. Apart from a couple more scars to talk about luckily he was non the worse for the experience.

Talking to Daryl he said as soon as he felt the boat slowing he knew he was going to fall off and tried to dive sideways. When he hit the water he immediatly dived deeper to get away from the boat and it was this action that meant that his bum was the highest part of his body. 

We were more than lucky that he had not been hit on the head or somewhere else as this could have been fatal. Did we learn from this? I did, never again would I let anyone onto my boats if they did not have a seat and still to this day I will never stand up in a moving speed boat.