On The Boats……Spinning Flywheels and Dodgy Sergeants

December 17, 2014

I received this personal account from Neil Potter…….another veteran of the Rhodesian Engineer Boats!

Neil takes up the post from here:

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 crew member with you I guess, but I’d enjoy a conversation with that idiot if I could only remember his name.

Now that’s just the sort of thing that can happen when you have idiots at the controls.  Good to know Neil got out of it in one piece though and a big thanks to him for the recollection.

For those of you that don’t know what an outboard motor flywheel look like, here is a picture for illustration:


The flywheel is the big round black thing on top and when the engine is running it spins at very high revolutions.  Imagine two of those spinning side by side and like Neil, falling onto them because some asshole opened the throttles………..and our flywheels were a lot less smooth than this one.  We had all sorts of jagged bits sticking out to bite us.

More on outboard motors, flywheels, shear-pins and other animals in the next post.

Please also have a look at my website dedicated to Rhodesian and South African Military Engineers.  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.


5 Responses to “On The Boats……Spinning Flywheels and Dodgy Sergeants”

  1. Paul RH Johnson said

    I was there on the bank when Neil Potters accident happened, and Neil’s description of events was correct. Pity about the bull written by the Sargent to cover his rear end.
    Immediately after the incident BSAP Inspector Mike Kettle arrived, and we radioed the incident in to Kariba for a casevac, They told us to ferry Neil to Kariba by boat, to which I replied ” the time this would take together with the rough trip would kill him, following which I would go to the ops room and kill the person responsible for this ridiculous decision. They then decided to send a fixed wing casevac, which still seemed to take forever.

    • fatfox9 said

      Well done Paul! You probably saved his life. Some really dodgy decisions made by the rear at times and I experienced quite a few myself. Thanks for the input.

  2. Hi Mark, I put Paul onto your site and encouraged him to have his say too. Paul and I were at Milton High together and worked together in Standard Bank Rhodesia and SA.

  3. Oops, Paul was also in Engineers, but I can’t remember what his intake was.

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