Towards the end of a two week holiday to Corfu in 1984 we went on a day trip which turned out to be one of the highlights of the stay, a full day on a Greek boat, with a Greek skipper and plenty of alcohol.
This was George’s boat and at mid morning we joined about thirty other holiday makers when we arrived at the concrete quayside opposite the hotel and were welcomed on board by George himself, a man with a big flashing smile and a flamboyant sense of humour who worked hard to get us all to enjoy ourselves before casting off and steering the brightly coloured boat with the steady rhythm of its chugging diesel engine away from Corfu, out into the Ionian Sea and along the eastern shoreline of the island. As soon as George had completed the tricky technical bits and negotiated his way out of the harbour the fun began when the wine was opened and passed around and drunk from plastic cups and he began an amusing narrative and a stream of jokes, which were corny to begin with but got ruder and increasingly suggestive and inappropriate as the day progressed.
Eventually someone had to be the first to use the on deck toilet which was located within a sort of canvas modesty tube and this was the moment George was waiting for because as soon as they were inside he pounced, scooped up a bucket of sea water and then to everyone’s amusement (except the young girl in the loo) he poured it through the open top and drenched her. Her shrieks could probably be heard on the mainland and the whole boat was in fits of laughter.
After this there was no stopping George and his next party trick was to scoop up more water and then discharge this over unsuspecting people minding their own business and sunbathing on pedalos bobbing gently on the water. HELLOOO! he shouted just as he emptied the bucket load all over them. Some thought it was funny but others didn’t completely share the joke. Everyone on board found this hilarious and encouraged George to repeat it over and again at every opportunity.
George took us first to a remote beach which he called ‘hanky-panky island’ that was inaccessible from the land and he dropped anchor and invited us to jump from the prow of the boat into the warm crystal clear water below and we stayed there for a while swimming and diving and then sitting on deck in the sunshine drinking more wine. After the swimming break we set off again for a stop at a small village for a barbeque lunch of fish and salad and yet more local wine. It wasn’t the best wine I’ve ever tasted but sitting by the water with a cool breeze rippling the sea and the table cloths it was delightful and we could easily have stayed much longer than the time allocated and before we were really ready we had to set off on the journey back with more wine, more japes and a thoroughly good time.
Eventually the fortnight and an idyllic holiday came to an inevitable end and we had to reluctantly leave Corfu. It had been an excellent holiday, perfect weather, Greek beer called Fix, Ouzo, Retsina, Moussaka and Greek salads. Lovely people, good sightseeing and the best boat trip I have ever been on even now. I have never been back to Corfu, I have been twice to Cephalonia which is similar but my favourite Greek islands are really the Cyclades and I have generally chosen to travel there instead.
I’ve googled and checked and 25 years later George’s boat is still running: