|Subsequently bundles of reeds were stacked together longitudinally on the bottom frame and were firmly lashed against each other and onto the /\ shaped frame-base.
When a sufficient amount of bundles was stacked and secured on the frame-base the remaining samplings were lashed on top of the bundles and against the stern. Thus a triangular box was formed containing the reed bundles.
Subsequently-and while still fresh and supple- the tied tips of cypress samplings were firmly turned inward to form the characteristic tusk-like prow of the little
They were held in that position by cords until the amplings dried and lost their suppleness.
Now additional bundles were lashed on the curved prow, on top of the frame and along the sides for additional protection and buoyancy. Dr. Stephanides informs me that reed boats he had seen functioning in the Liapades-Palaiokastritsa area in 1938 were
protected on the sides by common reeds(Arundo donax L.) and had a rather rounded stern.
This was essentially the method of construction although there were variants.
When i recorded these observations I was unable to further my inquiries and tap all the potential informants.
At any rate the net result was a highly buoyant rianguloid craft about 7-8 feet long and 4-5 feet wide at the stern. According to the available statements, corroborated by Dr. Stephanides, these reed boats were "unsinkable", that is as long as the reed
bundles held together and were used by local fishermen to lay lobster baskets in very deep
water in the open sea usually about 1/2 mile from the dangerous cliffs of the Island.
The fishermen propelled the reed boats with their feet and makeshift paddles.
Two men with their fishing equipment could be ccommodated. Interestingly, an old villager at the nearby village of Lakones which commands a pectacular view of the Adriatic sea told me that on occasion two reed boats were lashed together with
the sterns against each other, secured by long poles thrust through the reed bundles and tied firmly.
The result was a cigar shaped boat twice as large, of course, which according to the old man "could take you anywhere". The navigability of such a contraption seems rather outlandish and I would hate to recommend it to Thor Heyerdahl or Gene Savoy. It
may indicate, however, that in the old days larger reed boats were indeed made.
I find it quite interesting that the tradition of reed boats seems to have lingered strictly in the norhtwestern tip of the Island of Corfu. Nowhere else. Is it because
this part of the island specialises in lobster fishing?
Or is it possible that we are dealing with a tradition of primitive navigation between the northwestern tip of the island and the offshore islets nearby?
At this juncture we may consider the abundance os stone implements on the islet of Diaplo and indeed the extarordinary similarity of the neolithic impressed ware, so characteristic of both sides of the Adriatic and which we encountered in Level C Top of Sidari
as early as the middle of the 6th millennium B.C.-the earliest date fo this kind of pottery in these parts of the Mediterranean.
These reed boats of norhtwestern of Corfu are remarkably like those found on lakes Sana
(Budge 1960) and Zwai(Doresse 1959) of Ethiopia.
And they are similar to others (Digby 1954; Hornelli 1946).
Once more these similarities caution us against comparisons with Egypt, the balsas of Lake Titicaca, or the caballitos of Peru.
But they are eloquent testimony of mans ability to use the flimsiest material to overcome physical barriers -when he wants.