On The Boats…………(Part 1)

December 6, 2014

I watched the snake slither along the wooden rafter of the hut, its black tongue flicking ahead, feeling the way.  Lying on my bed and looking up at the bright green reptile I wondered what my escape plan was.  It was the first time a mamba had come into our billet but I always knew our luck would run out one day.  We were after all in the middle of the bush, working out of Deka Army Base and snakes were quite commonplace.  I didn’t like snakes then and I don’t like snakes now.  Just one of those things.  Anything else I can handle.

Here is a picture of a Green Mamba (greenmambasnake.com)…..a very dodgy visitor indeed:


There were two of us.  Both Sappers from 1 Engineer Squadron and attached to the infantry unit at the camp.  I think it was 1 Independent Company from Wankie based there most of the time on Border Control operations.  Tony Carinus and I were tasked with operating a Hercules Assault Boat within our area of responsibility on the Zambezi River, and our boat was moored with the British South Africa Police (BSAP) boats at the Sibankwazi Police post.  We had approximately 60 kilometres of river to patrol which was quite a stretch and we tried to cover this as often as we could.

Our boats were shite-looking and the police boats were all shiny and painted in cute pastel colours with lots of aerials on them so they could listen to Sally Donaldson and Forces Requests on Sundays.  Papa5 was a particularly nice police boat that I would have given my left testicle to take onto the river but big John Arkley, the Member-In-Charge of the Sibankwazi BSAP would not allow it.  We never had any aerials as we had no one in particular to talk to and the boats were painted a matt dark green, or at least they were green when they were new which must have been in 1945 or earlier.

Here is a picture of one of our boats (Basil Preston):

Hercules and Basil

Please note the warped wooden seats  made for extreme anal comfort, and the generally dodgy state of seaworthiness.  I must say that this boat at least has engine covers on the twin 40 ponypower Evinrude outboards so is probably a VIP version.  A close look at the red fuel tank also indicates it was probably “borrowed” from a civvy fisherman on a long-term basis as ours were a dull drab brown colour.  Either that or the QM ran out of camo paint or brushes, or both.

Here is a picture of the area of the Sibankwazi Police Post (www.bsap.org) where we moored up.


Our boat was not allowed under the shelter because there were too many shiny police boats in there.  We normally tied up to the left of the shelter near the launching area (see above).  Having said that the bobbies were always very good to Tony and I and we had many good piss-ups and braais with them.  They were also destined to get me out of some fairly serious shit in the years to come.

Tony and I normally planned our own activities and it seemed in retrospect that the infantry Sunray (OC) at the camp never had much interest in what we got up to all day.  Only occasionally would we drop-off or pick-up infantry sticks along the Rhodesian side of the river.  This resulted in a lot of tiger fishing, game viewing, stopping off at Msuna Mouth or Deka Drum resorts for beers and a meal, or simply patrolling up and down the river looking for gook crossing points or even better still, some gooks.

This is the Deka Drum area of the Zambezi (Craig Haskins)………

Deka Drum

A pretty enjoyable time for me and Tony in general and I have fond memories of my days on the boats.  We did however have some dodgy experiences and these will part of the next few posts.

Please also have a look at my website dedicated to Rhodesian and South African Military Engineers.  Please join us on the forums by using the following link:



© Mark Richard Craig and Fatfox9’s Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


8 Responses to “On The Boats…………(Part 1)”

  1. Owen Shaw said

    I was based at Sibinkwazi with Tony Carinus until mid January 1975 when my NS was over. You must have been my relief.

    • fatfox9 said

      Makes sense to me Owen. Time period is spot on. Great days and probably some of the best I had in the army. Thanks for dropping by and please send me some of your stories to publish here. Always good to have other people giving thier own experiences.

  2. Neil Potter said

    I had the dubious honour of falling over and between a pair of those Evinrudes, running without the covers on, after just pull starting both. The idiot at the controls, a 2 Indep. NS Sargeant fresh out of Hooters, decided that it would be funny if he gave both motors full throttle when I asked him to give the port motor more revs (via the warm up lever as I had instructed him beforehand as that motor always stalled). I had both legs badly cut up by the flywheels, a hundred plus stitches later, and friction burns around the wounds. What really irked me was a few years later I pulled my file in the orderly room in Kariba and read his statement to the effect that I had caused the accident by pull starting the motors in gear ! He even had one of his troopies verify that by making another statement to that effect, even though that individual was not even on the boat with the others going out on patrol. One of the drawbacks of not having a crewmember with you I guess, but I’d enjoy a conversation with that idiot if I could only remember his name.

    • fatfox9 said

      Hi Neil. Thanks for dropping in. Must have been really painful. I know what those Evinrudes can do and we also had some with no covers. Bloody dangerous as we needed to start them with a dodgy old piece of cordage. I take it you had the same type of technology onboard. Could have ended up much worse for you although it must have been really painful. Human flesh and spinning flywheels dont mix to well. I really appreciate your support on the blog and hope you stay with me and follow. Always bad when someone like the Sgt you had makes the story look like someone else is to blame. Happened far too many times. Keep safe and if you have any more recollections I can post would love to hear from you. Any pics of your military service would be most helpful. Do you mind if I add your story below to my next post? All the best……..Mark

  3. I remember loosing a FN off one of the engineers boats into the Deka river in Febtuary / March 1974. We were on patrol from the Deka army camp.My corporal couldn’t read a map so we were going round in circles like the “fakwe bird “. We were to patrol a few klicks away from the river.I eventually said to him that i had fished in this area since i was a kid and that we should walk down to the river and get a lift to the Deka Drum fishing camp. While walking along the Zambezie towards the Deka the engineers came past us in their boat.We called out to them and they came over to us .We asked them to give us a ride to the fishing camp, they refused saying that if the brass found out there could be hell to pay. They took off with the boat and we carried on walking to the Deka river. When we reached the Deka river and walked up stream we had to walk a short distance from the river due to the mud along the river bank after the flooding. We then heard a boat coming up stream, it was the engineers who came back to pick us up as they felt sorry for us.As we made our way to the boat i lost my footing after stepping into a hole covered with mud and fell onto a rock. I asked my corporal to pull me up. he put his FN on the bow of the boat , took my MAG and put it on top of the FN and pulled me up. We both climbed into the boat and as we moved away from the bank into the stream he handed the MAG to me .The boat tilted to one side and all we heard was something sliding and then “”ploep “. The FN had fallen into the river. We got our ride to the fishing camp where we had beers, and hamburgers after thanking the engineers for the lift and telling them that we would report the loss the next day. Well the next day the s##t hit the fan. There was a lot of noise when we got back to the Deka camp and an inquire once we got back to 1 INDEP in Wankie. That FN is still lying in the Deka river. Hannes Botha

    • fatfox9 said

      Brilliant recollection Hannes and I remember seeing many patrols walking in the area you mention, and indeed feeling sorry for you guys. In fact the Sappers were also involved in foot patrols down there too and I will be mentioning one of these in my blog at some stage.
      Do you mind if I publish your personal story above in one of my new posts?
      All the very best and please stay on the journey with me.

  4. Sandra Carinus said

    -Tony Carinus was my husband for 33 years. Married in 1978 and divorced in 2011. He is now married to a Ghanaian girl, half his age and younger than his kids.
    How time changes things and makes us forget what we actually fought for 🙂

    • fatfox9 said

      Thanks for the update Sandra. Not sure if you wanted me to make this public but with your permission I will. Tony and I had great times together and it is always sad when people part, especially after so long together and where children are concerned. I appreciate you dropping in and please stay on the journey with me. An honour to have you here.

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