summer, our boat taxi is kept at the little harbour of
Kouloura, but in the
winter it is lifted out of the water. Theo and I set
off one November morning to take the boat to Corfu town. The day was warm
We spotted four
dolphins playing in the water. They were some way off, and can travel at up
to 30mph, making a clear photo
difficult - especially as they move so fast.
summer months, we often see them. You may remember from previous
newsletters, that occasionally a whale is also spotted.
Last July we saw two whales swim by -
closely followed by the Greek coast guard! I took a picture of them spouting,
but it seems they were too far away for the resolution of my camera.
Prepare yourselves for a romantic adventure! Take a large glass of wine and
immerse yourselves in the Durrel like stories of our friends, Jani and
Jeremy who spend long lazy summers on their much loved catamaran 'Sarava'.
30th May 2001
After spending the day at Anti-Paxos, snorkeling in the clear turquoise
water, we had our first sail of the year without engine power. The wind, for
once, was in the right direction, a gentle westerly blowing us towards Cavos
and the Southernmost tip of Corfu. We hoisted the 'yankee' and switched off
the engines. Sarava glided effortlessly over the waves and the only sound
was the soft swishing of the inky blue/black sea against her sides and the
slight movement of the sail.
Catamarans do not, thank heaven, roll from side to side like monohulls, but
seem to surf the swell very akin to riding a swimming horse coming into
shore on the incoming breakers. Occasionally the twin bows would break into
the water and splash up onto the sunbathers on deck, the sudden shock on the
hot bodies, making the water feel icy, causing shrieks from the victims!
Suddenly the dolphins appeared, as if out of nowhere, like shiny grey
torpedoes zoomng through the water just fractions of an inch from our bows.
They criss-crossed in front of the boat then leapt out of the sea in a
dripping, glittering arc over the starboard bow, plunged into the water and
out again to dive over the port bow then disappear under the bat. One small
show-off practised his circus act alongside shooting up out of the sea like
a rocket, turning in mid-air and diving straight down again with hardly a
splash. having amused themselves and us for a full ten minutes they left, as
a group. as quckly and silently as they had arrived and headed off to
As we rounded the cape, our speed of eight knots suddenly fell away with the
loss of wind and we had to revert to motor-power again until we reached our
destination for the night, a great favourite, the tny bay of Agni. Exactly
as we had dropped anchor, close to the shore, the sun dipped belw the hills
above the bay, casting a deep, cool shadow over the water. The land rises
steeply behind the bach and is thickly wooded with a huge variety of trees.
Silvery green olives, short, round and bushy, extremely tall, slim cypresses
, now black in their stiff silhouettes against the evening sky. Almost lime
green Mediterranean pines, their umbrella shaped branches in contrast to the
cypress, scenting the air drifting towards us from the hot land. Tufts of
Spanish broom dotted the hillsides and cliffs, bright yellow flowers with
their heady scent of coconut and honey, the sea around us was dusted with
their pollen. Christmas tree shaped conifers with perfect marble round
cones, large bushy bay trees and the occasional stately and immensly elegant
eucalyptus with its fish-like shimmering leaves and peeling papery bark.
Of the three small tavernas on the white pebble beach the one on the right,
as viewed from the sea, is our favourite, Taverna Agni, a stry in itself.
It was obvious from our first glimpse that some sort of party was in
progress. The customers were dressed in their best, lightweight clothes to
suit the balmy evening, but definitely much smarter than the usual
clientele. Anther clue was the pontoon belonging to the restaurant. Normally
just a simple wooden jetty, a few of its planks having seen better days, old
car tyres, painted white, dangling at the sides to fend off approaching
craft. (Typres in which enterprising sparrows buid their nests, safe from
marauding cats, just above the water line, tucked neatly into the cleft
where the metal wheel rim would fit.) Tonight it was transformed with a
strip of bright green carpet and two dainty arches constructed with tufty
pine branches festooned with delicate pink ribbons. Small boats were
arriving at intervals and depositing guests. One charming group consisted of
some angelic-looking small girls in pastel party frocks, white ankle socks
and bar shooes, who skipped along the pontoon to join some even smaller boys
in very clean white Bermuda shorts, on the beach. It was a scene straight
from the pages of Euid Blyton. The children were far more entertaining to
watch than the adults and seemed to belong to no-one as they were left to
their own devices, while grown-ups talked and drank on the taverna's
terrace. They say merrily on the beach in a line with total disregard to the
odd globule of tar, legs outstretched, and began the time-honoured game of
lobbing the smooth white pebbles into the sea. Quite suddenly, after about
five minutes of peaceful stone throwing, one little girl in a sugar pink
ensemble, decided to liven up proceedings by lying on her back and bringing
her legs up over her head to touch the beach behind her with her toes,
displaying to all and sundry her matching pink knickers. We waited for the
cries of horror from a mother along with the expected admonishment but none
came, perhaps this was her usual party-trick and had all been seen before!
The salmon pink sunset faded and, as the sky turned a deeper purpley-blue
the myriad stars appeared, the taverna lights were reflected in the calm
water and the guests were seated at long tables under the canopy. The
enticing smells of delicious cooking wafted over the water. Charcoal grilled
prawns, fried kalamari, oven-baked dished such as stifado with its red wine
sauce flavoured with cinnamon, the baby onions snuggling up to the
melt-in-the-mouth pieces of beef. The small traditional Corfiot fishing boat
which acts as a ferry to the taverna and operated by Eleni's father,
fetching customers from nearby villas and hotels, puttered out into the bay
past Sarava and the one other yacht at anchor. Just as it neared our
starboard side we heard a female voice tremulously but loudly warbling a
song from a well know opera, followed by scales and vocal exercises. "Greta
the goldfish has gut in her gills" stood out as one I remember being
embarrassed by at school choir practice. It was so incongruous in such a
tranquil setting that we spent about fifteen minutes trying to work out what
or who it was. We thought it must be a CD aboard the ferry - but then, with
the aid of binoculars Miranda spotted a lady in a soft peach trowser suit,
standng in the prow, her arms waving dramatically, singing into the night
air for all she was worth! Could this be one of the harpies? The local siren
troupe, we asked each other. Was she perhaps the pemptress of sailors,
luring them with her sweet songs to flounder to their doom on the jagged
rocks. After a couple of turns around the bay the bat and singing cargo
returned to the wedding party. The diva started her repertoire which
included, "Oh my beloved father" and ended with, "Ave Maria" and was met
with rapturous applause and standing ovation. We added our approval by
giving a short blast on the ship's foghorn, quickly imitated by the other
Jeremy's suggestion (he hates opera) t put in a request for, "Yellow
Submarine" was quoshed. We were merely bystanders, eavesdropping on their
special day, nevertheless we charged our glasses and toasted the happy
couple wishing them health and happiness in their future life together.
The golden moon rose over Albania and still the party went on until the
early hours. Opera was replaced by Abba and people danced under the stars.
As we drifted to sleep, lulled by the warm airs wafting into the cabin
windows, we were rocked gently by the rise and fall of the water, the
breathing of the sea.
Jani Tully Chaplin.