The Mediterranean is the homeland of modern civilization. This region has become home to many peoples and no less legends. At the same time, these places attract many tourists every year. Including yachtsmen!
Tours and cruises in the Mediterranean are one of the most popular destinations. Despite the fact that its waters are quite well studied, the sea often shows its own character. gives some advice for those looking to take a Mediterranean cruise.
Features of the Mediterranean Sea
The scale of the Mediterranean can be deceiving. The distance from Gibraltar to Turkey is almost double the distance from Ushante to Gibraltar. Even so, it usually takes more time to cross the Bay of Biscay than any of the crossings in the Mediterranean.
Crossing to and from the Eastern Mediterranean is no easy task. Usually it is carried out in the form of long cruises to the islands of the Mediterranean Sea.
From a meteorological point of view, the Mediterranean Sea is an interesting area. The sea temperature is approximately the same throughout the entire route. The sea is surrounded by mountains (for example, with the Alps), while in the south the waters meet the desert.
All these conditions create temperature contrasts between water and land. Thanks to this, the Mediterranean has developed its own special climate.
The Mediterranean wind map is dotted with winds with local names that are well known to meteorologists. Most of us are familiar with Mistral, Meltemi, Bora, as well as Levanter and Vendawal.
Sailing in the Mediterranean is sometimes described as a mixture of calm and storm. Of course, this is an exaggeration, but there is enough truth in these words. Despite the unstable weather conditions, it is very common to enjoy sailing under light to moderate sea breezes.
It would take a large book to describe the Mediterranean weather conditions and all the local winds. We, in turn, will look at some of the main points to remember when crossing from the east to Gibraltar.
The western Mediterranean tends to be influenced by Atlantic and Azores weather conditions. At the same time, the further east we go, the stronger the influence of the land.
In the north, Central European weather strongly affects the winds - especially the Mistral and Bora (the Mistral is not really just a local wind - it can extend as far as Africa).
The transition from Greece or Turkey to Gibraltar and the exit from the Mediterranean Sea usually takes place towards the end of the season. The Corinth Canal is currently closed due to landslides, limiting the exit from the Aegean Sea to the passage between Cape Maleas and Crete.
Across the Ionian Sea
Because of the heat often seen over Turkey and southwest Asia, northerly winds are typical of the Aegean summer, and Meltemi often reaches hurricane strength.
The wind is strongest in the afternoon during the highest temperatures and tends to concentrate in the central Aegean Sea. Although Meltemi is weakening by the end of summer, strong northerly winds can last until October!
Therefore, it is usually quite easy to leave the area due to the northerly winds. Moving further west into the Ionian Sea, we find ourselves at the “crossroads” of weather conditions.
Gregal is a wind to be especially wary of. This is a strong northeasterly wind reaching hurricane force. High pressure in the north and low pressure in the south create a dense pressure drop that results in strong and hurricane winds along with low cloud cover and rain.
Most of the yachts pass through the Strait of Messina to enjoy the hospitality of Sicily and the ports on the north coast. The Sicilian Strait is relatively shallow, with land on both sides.
Between Sicily and Africa, the most likely wind direction is from the northwest. Although it may change with low pressure over North Africa.
Yachts and boats are not frequent visitors to the North African coast. There are small marinas, but there are few of them and they are not an interesting tourist destination. Most of these marinas are private.
Most often, everyone goes through this part of the path (750-800 miles) in one jerk. The nature of the winds along the coast depends on the season. Westerly winds are likely to prevail during the winter months. As North Africa heats up and the pressure drops, there will be a noticeable increase in easterly winds.
The predominance of easterly winds lasts from May or June to October, when the direction of the wind becomes more uniform. In winter, the direction of the winds becomes more westerly.
This is also reflected in the Strait of Gibraltar. There, the intensification of westerly winds becomes more noticeable with the onset of autumn.
News and articles
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Jimmy Cornell is not just the founder of the World Cruising Club and the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), he is a yachting legend and travel guru. His books, an atlas, itineraries and a travel planner are probably on every yacht, every yachtsman and crew who travel around the world, cross the Atlantic, conquer the southern or northern seas, and even those who are just planning to do so.Read more…