In the pilot book, the author states that, ‘The first approach of the northern end of the Lefkas Canal can be hair-raising.” Watch our video so you know before you go.
Hair-raising – Yikes!
If I was a new sailor and read through the rest of the pilot book information I think I’d forget the canal and just spend several hours voyaging around the lovely Greek island instead.
But where’s the fun in that? (Watch the video below and then follow on and read more…)
We’ve gone through the Lefkas Canal on several occasions and it’s not that complicated if you follow a few tips.
My key suggestion for entering the northern approach to the Lefkas Canal is to hang back. Don’t try and be the first person at the bridge on the hour. (The bridge opens every hour on the hour – at least, that’s what’s suppose to happen).
Whenever we enter the canal from the north we circle around the bay until we hear the bridge siren go off or see boats starting to move in our out. Usually, there are several boats eager to get themselves crammed into a very tight space in the canal entrance so we happily let them go forward.
The canal opens on the hour but it’s usually Greek time so we’ve had experiences where it didn’t open until 15 past!
Furthermore, we’ve approached the open canal only to find a massive barge blocking it.
Like I stated above, my suggestion is to hang back for as long as possible. Let all the other boats go ahead of you (and many boats will take the opportunity to speed past you). We’ve stayed in the bay, just outside the canal entrance, right up to the hour, and then moved into the canal once we noticed traffic moving. Keep in mind that there are boats that have to come out too…so you will see movement.
The pilot book says that traffic from the North has right of way, but from my experience, it’s quite a free for all.
Typically boats enter and leave the canal at the same time unless something massive is coming through.
And again, once you’re in the entrance to the canal, hang back. By keeping back you give yourself the opportunity to slow down if complications arise. You don’t want to be right up the backend of another boat – you might have to stop and even go in reverse rather quickly.
Once in the Lefkas canal and past the bridge, the trip usually takes about ½ hour to get to the exit of the canal. And although the canal is not marked that well it’s very easy to see the passageway. In many cases, you’ll be following a line of other boats so just follow along and take in the beautiful views!
Traveling through the Lefkas Canal from the south is less stressful.
You’ll want to time your entrance so that you arrive at the bridge close to the hour. Once you’re at the north end of the canal there’s quite a bit of room to maneuver around the Lefkas Marina.
In fact, on a few occasions we’ve anchored outside Lefkas Marina pontoon H and I. There’s a grocery store in Lefkas Town where we quickly grabbed some provisions.
While motoring through the canal, I often make lunch or dinner as the boat is flat and I can open up some windows to let the fresh air in. And depending on where we’re going, I might even clean up the boat so I can completely relax when we get to our destination.
So, the Lefkas Canal is like any other tight space – you want to allow yourself enough room to prevent getting into a cramped situation. Hang back, take your time but obviously don’t miss the opening of the bridge!
Check Out Some Other Areas In Greece & The Mediterranian
For all our destinations in Greek Ionian, read Sailing The Greek Ionian Islands. If you’d like a breakdown of all the places we’ve visited while sailing the Mediterranean please read our destination overview: Sailing The Mediterranean. Otherwise, check out more posts about our time spent in Greece.