A week after arriving Preveza we were ready to move from the area and explore the neighbouring islands.
The destination of the day, Nidri, meant we needed to go through the Lefkas channel and floating bridge. Now that was exciting we had never passed a floating bridge with The Dream, but after reading the pilot book we were a bit apprehensive with the width of the channel, the book mentioned that the channel would just fit two big catamarans crossing each other with care. That meant that the channel was quite narrow and that the depths immediately to the side of the markers were in several places, not enough for us to divert if needed and on top of that the book mentioned an area that is silt near the entrance where frequently yachts run aground.
And the last detail was that the bridge opens on the hour for just a few minutes, just enough for the boats already close to the bridge to cross, whoever doesn’t get there in time needs to wait for next opening hour...
We had zero intentions of getting caught on the channel with anything more than very light winds, so that meant that despite our efforts to sail or motor-sail we would do the entire journey under the engine.
With our new Aussie friends Julie and Simon from Festina Lente II that had the same idea for their next anchorage we got ourselves underway. Between thinking, we were going to be late for the bridge opening or too early we ended up being the first ones to arrive at the entrance.
Worried with the width we decided to wait before entering on the channel. We tried to call the bridge on the radio to confirm they were opening but no one replied and since we couldn’t see the actual bridge from the entrance or any signal system that would inform us the bridge was opening a couple of minutes before 11 am our friends went into channel followed by us. Slowly, slowly, just in gear we made our way in impressed by how narrow the channel is and how shallow it is right next to the markers. The bridge was not open yet, we both slowly turned the yachts around and exited the channel to wait a bit longer, another 3 yachts of similar size to us were arriving, the 5 of us stayed circling a couple of times in front of the entrance respecting the order of arrival before proceeding again. A little charter yacht arrived at full speed, started hanging fenders out and jumped the cue of yachts already slowly motoring the in the channel, with this genius overtaking everyone there was no space to turn around and exit the channel if needed so the option was to hover in place and let him pass to take the lead crossing the bridge.
5 minutes past the opening time the floating bridge started to open, first lifting a section on each end and only after pivoting on itself. For a moment I (Ana) wondered how the hell two boats can pass each other, it’s so narrow?! But as the bridge finally pivoted there was plenty of space.
After the bridge the channel continued narrow and extending for a couple of miles, within 200-300 meter wider area that gives access to Lefkas town and where the boats are med moored to the town wall presented itself to our starboard side, we decided to stop and anchor for a few minutes to check the transmission oil levels, we had changed the oil the day before and we wanted to be sure all was good. Our friends carried on and after checking our situation we followed, around 2 nautical miles of the narrowest channel I’ve seen so far.
What an experience!
John hand steered the first part until we anchored to check the transmition oil levels and I had steered the rest.
A month later we would the same trip in the opposite direction, this time with a lot more confidence.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.