Captain Chaos 

Night time escapades on the Harbour as a Sea Scout

The school holidays are over and the towns along the coast have gone back to their lazy laid back ways. I know that everyone could wish the Pacific Highway to hell as over the holiday period it’s racked up more fatalities to the horror of those who live along its length.
In the golden days of youth when I was a boy scout, or should I say a sea scout, I belonged to 1st Port Jackson Sea Scouts. Our headquarters were on the southern end of Balmoral Beach. It was an old boatshed with a pontoon out the front. In those days prior to Chaos I was called Hey You.
The troop had this old clinker water-logged whaler that we used to row around the immediate area, never too far from shore.
We used to have camps and that meant sleeping over in the boatshed. During the day we learnt to tie knots and as the Navy depot was just through the fence we went to the pool where the men were learning damage control. We were lucky as they taught us to use some of their gear. It was fun sitting on the bottom of the pool with a canvas re-breather strapped to your chest. We even got to go out into Middle Harbour when they loaded their equipment into the launch and practised what they had been taught in the pool. They were exciting days and it was during one of the camps that this adventure happened.
We had all finished our sausages, bread and tomato sauce and were sitting around listening to stories when one of the head scouts suggested we take the whaler and do a night row using the stars to direct us. We all jumped at the chance to be part of the adventure but of course there was only so much room in the whaler, so with the use of different lengths of line it was decided who was going to crew the boat. I thought I’d missed out.
“We need a bailer!”
The picked crew looked around and saw me.
“Hey You! You bail on 18-footers don’t you?”
I nodded. It seemed my forte was well-known around the lower north shore (I sailed with my Dad on 18-footers out of Mosman Amateurs. I was tied to the boat and spent my time crouching in the bottom and had to bail like buggery as they tried to sink the boat, all the time screaming out “Bail, you little bastard. Bail!”). Funny after all these years I can still feel their feet treading on me when we changed tack.
We got the whaler in the water and clambered in with me clutching a large billycan. We were having fun as we rowed out towards the lighthouse on the other side when suddenly all the stars went out and dark clouds rolled across the sky. I couldn’t even see the water in the bilge but I knew it was rising because I could feel it.
“Hey You! We’re sinking! Bail!”
An argument ensued with everyone disagreeing about which way the shore was. During this squabble the sky opened up and a deluge fell on us. The boat had water up to the seats and bailing was a waste of time.
The bow hit the side of a moored boat.
“Hey that’s Bill’s boat! We can only be about 30 metres from the beach.”
But we couldn’t row because the water was up to the gunnels.
“We’ll have to swim, so keep close together and when we get to the beach I’ll do a roll call. OK?”
We couldn’t answer because we were up to our necks in black cold water. Luckily we only had shirts and shorts on … and we had badges for swimming 400 yards in clothes. When we got back to the shed one of the Mums had cooked a large apple pie.
The next day the Navy helped to get the whaler out of the water and our fathers fixed Bill up for the damages to his boat. It was the last night row we were allowed to have.


Thin Apple Tarts with Caramel sauce

8 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, halved and sliced thinly
4 thin rounds of puff pastry about 15cms in diameter, pricked with a fork to prevent rising
20ml caster sugar
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of cloves
150g butter
For the Caramel Sauce
250g cream
250g sugar

Arrange the thin slices of apple, starting at the edge and working towards the centre on the pastry bases. Sprinkle liberally with caster sugar. Divide the butter and place pieces over the surface of the apple slices. Bake at 170°C for about 10-15 minutes or until the pastry base is cooked to a light brown.
For the Sauce: In a pan mix the sugar with 150ml of water. Boil until a deep brown. In a separate pan bring the cream to the boil. Add the caramel to the cream, being very careful as this could boil over. Whisk carefully on the heat until all caramel has dissolved.
To serve: Place one round per plate. Pour the caramel sauce around. You can add thick King Island cream to the top of the tart if you wish. Serve with a good dessert wine.