Where to start? Vlei Road, Lakeside! In those days, St Clair, which was the name of our house and a private residence, became the meeting place for both Cubs and Scouts. We had a large shed on our property and tons of space for such a gathering. The Scouts met on a Friday, much like the Troop does now, and the Cubs met on a Saturday morning.
The Cub Pack Leader was Mrs. Joan Strong and my Late Mom, Barbara was Baloo the Bear. Of course, the Grand howl was the highlight of the meeting. We played many games on the field next to the house, and took walks down to the vlei. Eventually, we relocated to the old stables on the main road between Lakeside and Muizenberg. This is where the transition from Cubs to Sea Scouts took place.
At that stage, Mr. George Bunting was Scout Master and my late Dad, Fred, used to assist on a Friday evening. Fun - was the name of the game, what with wide games; camps; the Gordons shield; sailing on the Vlei; visits to the navy base in Simonstown; even a trip on the Naval survey vessel SANS Natal was organized for us. We sailed around Cape Point to Cape Town. What a trip! I was chosen to work as a Cadet on the Unicorn Coasters. The Inyala and the Ingane come to mind. The picture of yours truly on the Coaster Inyala, standing on the monkey island next to the ships binnacle, magnetic compass.
There was a change in the leader ship of the Scouts - and if my memory serves me well - I recall that Mr. Delport took over from Mr. Bunting. I also remember Inyathi well, a Scouter, who assisted with the Scout troop. He had an interesting claim to fame, as he was one of the Pursers on board the old SA Seafarer when it stranded off Moullie Point on the 1 st of July 1966. A group of us also spent time at General Botha, Granger Bay and did some time sailing on the training vessel, Howard Davies. Another vessel we sailed on, was the Active. Great to see the quarterly magazine The Quarter Deck re-appearing, of which my late Dad designed its very first cover!
It is absolutely great to see how much time is spent on the water at Zandvlei. My late Dad, Frederick St Clair-Laing, was one of the co-founders of the present Zandvlei Yacht Club. There is a picture in the pub of The Hut, in the right hand corner is my late Dad sitting on his haunches. At that stage, a shell of a trawler was delivered to where the present base is. My Dad was later transferred to National Roads in Pretoria, and our Sea Scouts resumed with the 22nd YMCA and had a lovely base at Hartebeespoort. Our camp was at Cosmos. The fun and activities never stopped. The Land Scouts had a name for us – “Puddle Pirates”!!
Well, that is brief description of my time spent with Cubs and Scouts in the 1960’s. This stood me in good stead for my future. I did my national service in the SA Navy and served on two Minesweepers, The Windhoek and The Walvis Bay. I was involved with the NSRI, Station 5 Durban for 26 years and became Senior Swain on two big life boats that served the station. I also worked for Boating World, in Granger Bay, and delivered power vessels up and down the east coast of Africa.
I also took up sailing and sailed the East Coast of Africa, game fishing. My qualifications were power and sail. My forte – Navigation – which was quite easy to master. Going up the coast, Africa on the left and Africa on the right. Who would believe me? So, yes - What put the salt in my veins? Sea Scouts, 1st Muizenberg!
Current Status: Dropped Anchor; and Tied the Knot to Mrs. St Clair-Laing!!