We’ve spent the last five days in the Lefkas area. The last time we were there was 2003 when we both learnt to sail with Nielsen. It was lovely revisiting old haunts.
We left Vonitsa at lunchtime on Monday having bought fresh provisions in the morning. We were blessed with yet more dolphins en route to Preveza. We were going to use the Lefkas Canal for the first time and we could understand why the pilot books urge caution when entering it when the wind and sea have built up. We, of course, arrived at the entrance as the wind had got up to 20 knots and we had 20 mins before the floating bridge opened on the hour. There was a waiting quay you can use and we only managed to tie up with the help of the motor yacht in front of us. However, the favour was returned when they set off to go through the bridge and found one of their lines was caught. Liz quickly jumped off Nimmie and untied it for them.
The canal itself is very pretty as it is essentially a lagoon that separates Lefkas from the mainland. It takes about 45 minutes to navigate the length of it but by then you are well and truly in the southern Ionian.
Our overnight stop was Port Atheni on Meganisi. The name doesn’t do the bay on the NE corner of the island justice – turquoise water, tavernas and beach. It is a lot busier than Croatia or the northern Ionian islands but we still managed to anchor and take lines ashore. We had also been told that rats try to climb up your ropes here so we installed ‘rat protectors’ otherwise known as cut off water bottles on our lines. By which time it was after 8pm so no time for a G&T in the hammock. A very peaceful night and a leisurely breakfast before setting off. The afternoon sea breeze here gives you several hours of sailing, as long as you don’t want to go south or southwest!
After investigating several coves we had remembered from our previous visit, we sailed down to the SE tip of Lefkas at Vasiliki. It is a watersport centre as well as a large anchorage. You can see why as the afternoon sea breeze comes straight in! However, once the sun had set, things calmed down a bit although the wind was greater than forecast due to the katabatic effect of the hills around.
We left early the next day as there were strong winds forecast for the next two days and we wanted to find a safe spot near Nidri, halfway up the eastern side of Lefkas. There is an anchorage in Vlikho Bay that is described as a ‘hurricane hole’. It’s really well sheltered from pretty much every direction – perfect. Quite a few other boats had similar ideas but we found a spot we were happy with. We put out plenty of chain as it was forecast to gust F5/6. We went into Nidri in the afternoon and reminisced about the Nielsen base there at the Athos Hotel with its Tree Bar. Those were the days. The Wednesday night was pretty uneventful as the holding is excellent in gluppy mud.
On Thursday morning the weather forecast had increased the predicted wind strength so we decided to stay put and work on our list of boat jobs. By 11am the wind was consistently a F4 (16 knots) and getting stronger. By 3pm it was gusting 30 knots and boats were flooding in as we suspect it was closer to 40 knots outside. We were very glad we made the decision to stay put as we knew the anchor was dug in. However, we did have our own incident when the dinghy flipped with the outboard attached. Normally, we take the outboard off when there are strong winds but we thought Baby Nimmie was safely tethered and so this wouldn’t happen. We were wrong! Luckily, we spotted it pretty quickly so got the outboard on board and flushed the water out, took various bits apart and put it all back together again. Fingers crossed we started it up and it worked! We suspect that we have done some irreparable damage as engines and salt water don’t mix. We shall see.
The wind didn’t abate until around 10pm but at least we were able to sleep knowing the anchor had held and no one else seemed to have dragged. On Friday morning (July 20), we quickly did some shopping in Nidri town (and tried out the outboard again) and set off to explore some anchorages on the mainland. We found a wonderful one at Ormos Varko with amazing sand, turquoise water and a nice beach bar. This time it was a lunchtime stop but we will be back!
Back up the Lefkas Canal for the 5pm bridge and into Preveza where we are to be joined on Sunday by Liz’s brother, David and sister in law, Judy.