It can be a much welcomed breeze in the summer heat and give you clear skies. But it can also make the sea so rough that you might need to change course or wait for it to die down. Here are both sides to the coin.
The northern winds called Meltemi in Turkish or Etesian in Greek are probably the first thing anyone who wants to sail in the Mediterranean or the Aegean should know about. So we gathered some facts and tips that might help you get along with this mighty wind.
Meltemis are strong dry north winds that accompany sailors all through the summer charter season. They start around mid-May and sometimes last until October. In the Aegean they blow northeasterly moving south into the North Aegean.
They bring low humidity, good visibility, clear blue skies and relief during the hot summer months. They also provide wonderful surfing conditions in particular areas.
Meltemis have a daily routine. They begin around 9:00 in the morning, get noticeably strong in the afternoon and die down early in the evening. Most charter captains prefer to cruise in the morning – if not at night- to avoid the winds and anchor in the afternoon.
Average Meltemi winds blow at 4 to 5 Beaufort and can reach 5 – 7, and possibly 8 – 9. They can act suddenly and go on for days without a break. Most captains prefer not to sail when it’s strong and wait for it to drop. But as these winds are unpredictable, there is no way of telling when the boat can start cruising again.
Although quite suitable for adventurous sailors, Meltemis are not for the inexperienced. Even if you as the captain are confident to sail through a reasonably strong Meltemi wind, the other people on board might feel uneasy with the experience. If you want a more relaxing journey, Meltemi winds might be a good reason to hire an experienced local skipper.
Meltemi winds might affect island hopping charters the most. For example in the Cyclades (Santorini) the winds are effective at the north east side of the island, which is the part where boats come in from Turkey. So cruising from Bodrum to Santorini is not a good idea. You might have to take shelter constantly and you will lose a lot of time. There is also a corridor that the sailors should be warned about. The corridor starts in Bodrum and reaches out all the way to the Dodecanese islands and Cyclades. Here, Meltemi blows constantly across 100 miles. A local source has described that within 6 hours, of a 30-knot wind, the waves can reach as high as over 3 meters. These conditions can be very dangerous for some charter boats.
For the Greek waters, The Ionians and South Dodecanese are alternative regions to escape Meltemi winds. But if you wish to stick to the Turkish coast line, you will find that the winds get calmer as you go east from Marmaris to Fethiye, Göcek, Kas and Kalkan.
If you have any story, insights, advice, tips or experience to share with fellow sailors, please write it down and email to [email protected]. We will publish it on our pages with your name!