We spent six days exploring the ‘inland sea’ – Amvrakikos Gulf. Our anchorages were solitary, the first a picturesque little island, the next at the head of the bay where the lands were flat and silty and our only company fishermen, cats cradling their nets around us.
Then we made a terrific sail over to the south side where the landscape changed and was positively Dorset; a bucolic scene, enclosed fields and green hedges running down to the water’s edge, hints of yellow fields just harvested beyond. Next a bay where there was a bit more activity, a boat yard sitting in a field on shore. We made a trip to the beach to the chaotic taverna where eventually we got served but what amused me was the line up of craft that awaited the departing clientele. Three types – a kayak (ours), a rubber dinghy and a fishing boat! The fisherman and his wife had come out for their Saturday evening, slung their anchor behind them and beached the boat, eaten their meal and then cast off back to wherever they had come from. The next day after exploring some little bays for coffee and lunch stops we ended up tied back to the pier in Vonitsa – water tap and no payment for anything! Vonitsa is a living working town, friendly and a little haphazard, scooters left running while shopping is completed, cars stopped on the corners chatting to friends while lorries bearing motor homes back up behind; near misses with dogs and cats and groups of old men playing cards and backgammon in the cafes. The sky and the setting sun reflected in the water looked magical, a rose pink turning dusky meanwhile the water turned from red to purple to orange and the silhouettes of the trees a solid black.
Reluctantly we had to move on, travelling north to a bay that we had first come to on a flotilla holiday and it did not disappoint. We spent two nights in ‘Two Rock Bay’ a bit of a misnomer as it actually has three rocks at its entrance. We swam and kayaked, there was a coffee bar up on the cliffs with a great view and Andy used the clarity of the waters to don what looks like wartime equipment to dive under the boat. After seeing the photos our children have advised me to send him on a Padi course this winter.
Anchored in Fanouri Bay, we put the kayak over the side in preparation for our journey up the Acheron, one of the rivers of Hades where we will be on the alert for Charon, the ferryman of Hell.
The entrance to the river lies at the side of the bay up a little canal like opening. We passed by bulrushes and the small town, then onto an odd cluster of boats that lined the river in various states of use and decay. The current was against us as the river wound its way on getting prettier with overhanging trees, grey green willows and the most gorgeous dragon flies. They flashed, shimmering iridescent brilliant indigoes, blues and silver, occasionally a flare of red, green and yellow, their gossamer wings flickering and hovering over flat fat lily pads. Wasp’s nests hung from the trees, a kingfisher’s wings glinted as he sped upstream and a water rat slumped into the water from the bank. The whole place reminded me of childhood stories, *Flower fairies, Wind in the Willows and Thumbelina – I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her sitting on a lily pad with a big lecherous toad drooling over her. We passed a kayak tour sweeping downstream at a split in the river where it was being explained that in this very spot Thetis, Achilles’ mother had held him by his famous heel to dip him in the river and give him a protective shield. We paddled as far as we could go and were tempted by a modern day Charon to come and rest awhile but we are not ready for Hades and declined the offer.
The wind had got up on our return and we had a nasty 30 minutes or so battling wind over current which gave us short sharp waves to negotiate. It was a relief to get back to the boat.
I have gathered a bunch of my Sivota treasure trove and this is what I have collected over the years, all but one from Peter’s Art Gallery https://sivotaonline.com/ , I have not included some paintings! So yes, here we are again visiting Sivota Mourtos and once again we must visit all the jewellery shops and Peter’s in particular. We kayaked – we are getting used to our new dinghy. We explored round the little islands and entered the big cave that we had observed from the sea, cool, dark and cathedral like. I bought earrings and now have a contact who lives near Piraeus and whose son works in Zea marina where the boat will be for the winter – what a coincidence!
We got to Corfu. There are certain things to do and places to visit that have become compulsory, in fact I realise this is precisely what we have been doing for the last few weeks. Anchoring under the castle is one, having a cocktail on the Cavalieri terrace is another. So we paddled, experts now, into the little moat, then a short, well worn route to the hotel, up the rickety lift to the rooftop. The cocktail turned into a meal and it was just so lovely to be back. The next day at another compulsory stop off Vidho Island, we where we were greeted by fellow Scots and had a conversation about Selkies and Burntisland. Once tied up in Gouvia Marina we hear a disbelieving Scottish voice proclaiming ‘No way! Burntisland!’ another lovely chat ensued. By the evening we were surrounded by Italian school children on a two week sailing adventure. The boats having come into port because of forecast bad weather. One after another they appeared and when you thought there simply couldn’t be any more others came in; in all I think 14 large sailing boats with 10 teenagers apiece. All were skippered, by men. There was a female doctor on hand for all their sunburns, bites and any advice that was needed. The teenagers, boys and girls seemed to be having lots of fun and I was impressed that the adults managed to keep them busy and contained. After issuing eggs and pancetta to each boat (and some under the counter bargaining with chocolate biscuits for extra pancetta was observed) it seemed that the teenagers did not know how to cook the carbonara!!!
Selkie Dancer has been lifted out, everyone was very professional; only one glitch when it looked like a car that had been parked in the way of the travel lift might be flattened. However the travel lift driver leaning on his horn soon had the desired effect and flushed out the sleepy looking owner who moved it PDQ.
We are returning at the beginning of September……………………
*In the 1920’s Cicely Mary Barker published a series of Flower Fairies books. They are charming so look here if you want to be reminded.