I can honestly say it was the longest continuous period of terrible weather I’ve ever experienced out in The Med, actually anywhere for that matter.
For the inexperienced sailor the weather out in Greece can be potentially very dangerous. Although the weather is good most of the time and the sun shines when thinking of Sailing you need to be very aware of how conditions can change. This is because many believe that sailing in The Med is just a case of sunbathing on deck whilst sipping a G&T and are often caught out by the underestimated weather conditions.
Whenever I’m out doing the holiday charters I am always keeping my eye on the weather and make sure I receive regular updates which is obviously of paramount importance if you are responsible for the safety of guests.
Over the last week we had wind speeds that were peaking at over 60 knots. Bear in mind that anything over 64 knots on the Beaufort Scale is classed as hurricane force.
The Beaufort Scale was originally devised in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort because although naval officers made regular observations there was no standard scale to refer to so could vary somewhat because what one officer would class as a strong breeze another world class as a gale. Therefore by using a standard table more accurate and consistent reports could be given.
It is also important to be aware how local areas can vary in weather forecasts and in addition to local and general weather reports also take time to peruse synoptic weather charts. It all might seem very technical but once high pressure and low pressure systems have been understood and how Coriolis Force affects them it’s all relatively easy to understand. There are of course a few other things to consider but it’s not as difficult to grasp as some might think.
When skippering a vessel it’s also important to consider how weather will affect the sea state and how people on board would be able to handle the conditions that might come. If you make a decision to go out to sea when the weather turns for the worse and people start being ill it’s not like being in a car where you can either stop or pull over into the next service station, you are in it and that’s that. The sea has no mercy and must be respected because having a gung ho attitude can lead to serious danger.
Anyway, I’d been watching the weather in the previous week to last in the hope that something would change for the better. It did change, but for the worse. It changed so much that I thought there was a real possibility that the guests on the coming week’s charter would be spending the week holed up in the marina. If we get strong winds around Lavrio where we are based we can generally still get out because I know further west in the Saronic Gulf doesn’t get affected as much. This time though that was not an option because there was some serious sh*t on the way over and it was going to be bad everywhere
My personal yardstick for assessing what the wind around where we are is to add at least 10 knots to the forecast and in some cases double it. I don’t want to sound like a clever arse but when I do this I am not generally too far out in my prediction. Being aware of the geography of the area and the effect this has on how the wind is funnelled allows me to do this with pretty good accuracy.
The forecast for the coming week was for sustained periods of 30-40 knots interspersed with even stronger gusts. My prediction was that we would have sustained periods of 50 knots+ and we would definitely be getting battered with gusts over 60 knots. I was not wrong, the wind peaked at 64.7knots which if you recall, 64 knots on the Beaufort Scale is Hurricane force.
With this in mind I decided to contact the guests that were due to join us in order to put them in the picture. As it stood I said there was a probability we could sail on the Monday but after that we would need to return to base and would need to remain there for most of the week with the slight chance of getting back out to sea on the Friday or Saturday. Unfortunately this didn’t happen because although the wind eased slightly it came back with a vengeance on the Saturday.
Suffice to say I made sure that Atlas was securely moored up in the berth with mooring lines not just doubled but trebled in some parts. The boat certainly did some rocking during the week.
They called it a Medicane…..combined word of Mediterranean and Hurricane.
I felt really bad not being able to take our guests out but they fully understood that it was something out of my control and to choose to go out would be asking for serious trouble. When we did get out on the Monday it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, we saw dolphins and decided to drop anchor at Cape Sounio to have a swim.
Of course when we were packing up and leaving the marina to return home this Monday the sun made an appearance and the weather started to brighten up.
At least in Greece unlike Britain the bad weather is normally short lived although in the summer there’s The Meltemi to contend with but that a different story.
We’ve now got just a couple more charters to do this year then it’s a focus on 2019 and if of interest to anyone this link
shows the schedule and I’m pretty confident in saying that we should not see anything like what we’ve just had with the weather….. *fingerscrossed*
So that’s about it for now apart from saying that there’s a possibility that I might be putting on a free, yes that’s FREE, with no catch Sailing Theory course sometime over the winter. This might be helpful for anyone wanting to polish up their previously learned skills or anyone that has only done an online theory course and would like a few things explaining in more detail.
If this is of interest then let me know and I’ll start trying to get something organised.