The Maine Marine Patrol tows a kayak recovered Tuesday on an island in the Kennebec River in Hallowell. Rescue workers in a boat and a plane searched for the kayak’s occupant, who police later learned was safe and had lost the kayak while duck hunting in Waterville. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

The duck did not get away from him, but the kayak did.

The owner of the wayward boat was found safe and well late Tuesday after rescue workers earlier in the day had searched the Kennebec River area in Hallowell for the kayak’s occupant.

Chief Scott MacMaster of the Hallowell Police Department said Wednesday the unidentified man had been duck hunting on the Kennebec River in the Waterville-Winslow area when he attempted to retrieve his second duck of the day. Instead, his kayak got away from him and floated downriver about 19 miles.

“Luckily, he was OK,” MacMaster said. “He wasn’t stranded,”

Police received a call at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday reporting an empty kayak floating freely in the Kennebec River.

Officers who responded to the river could see a backpack inside.

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The Maine Marine Patrol launched a boat to retrieve the kayak, and found a freshly shot duck and shotgun shell inside the boat, indicating it had been used for duck hunting and the occupant might be in the river or stranded somewhere, according to MacMaster.

Rescue workers conducted a search of the area, with the Marine Patrol also using a plane, but no sign of the kayak’s owner was found.

Hallowell police posted information about the kayak on the department’s Facebook page, which the man who had been duck hunting saw later in the day.

“He had been duck hunting the night before and shot one duck, put it in the kayak and he was going after another one when the kayak got away from him,” MacMaster said, recounting what the man had told police when he called them.

The chief said he did not know more about the man, except that he was from Waterville.

“I think he was a little embarrassed,” MacMaster said. “He was very apologetic. We did have a conversation with him about reporting the vessel (after it got away), so that we can at least backtrack.”

MacMaster said Tuesday’s incident involving the empty kayak floating freely was not that unusual. In his two years as chief of Hallowell police, he said, it was the third such incident he had encountered.

Once, a boat got away from someone and floated down to Gardiner. Another time, a kayaker tipped over in the river amid high waters and was stranded.


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