The Famous Winds That Fill Our Sails

25th October 2019

Unlike most other cruise ships, the Star Clippers vessels rely on the winds of the world to propel them forward, making use of natural power wherever possible. Watching the sails billow as you glide through the waves is a mesmerising sight and one which sets this experience apart from many others in the industry.

As we sail through the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, various famous winds may fill the Dacron suspended from the masts. Whether feared or celebrated, these gusts are personified and given characteristics to help people know what to expect. Here are just a few you may or may not be aware of.

Scirocco

Scirocco Wind Puglia

Known by many different names across Southern Europe and Northern Africa (including Khamsin in Egypt and Xlokk in Malta), this wind blows across much of the Mediterranean. Initiating in the Sahara Desert, it travels across the sea to bring rain to the south of Italy. Due to the dust gathered over the dry areas mixing with the moisture in the air, the rain often has a reddish hue, leading to locals labelling it ‘Blood Rain’. The Scirocco wind also works in tandem with high tides to create the sporadic flooding in Venice that’s known as the Acqua Alta.

Bora

Kitesurfing Croatia

Taking its name from the word for ‘north-wind’ (boreas), these winds are felt throughout the Adriatic Sea. They are strongest on the eastern side and are created by pressure forming over the mountainous areas of Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina before the wind rushes through the gaps in the ranges and off the coast. There are many different types of Bora blowing throughout the year: light (clear skies), dark (heavy clouds), black (bringing rain or snow) and white (cold but dry), but they reach their peak between November and March.

Mistral

Mistral Wind Corsica

The Mistral wind occurs along the south coast of France, having formed over the Provence and Languedoc regions. Contrasting pressure in the Bay of Biscay and Gulf of Genoa causes these strong gusts to blow into the Mediterranean Sea for around a week, bringing cold but dry weather to the area. The name comes from the Latin word ‘magistralis’, meaning masterly, and carries a local legend that it sends people slightly crazy for a while.

Etesian

Oia Santorini

Given the name Meltemi in Turkey, the Etesian winds swirl around the Aegean Sea during the summer months. The name derives from the word ‘etesios’ which means ‘annual’ in Greek and highlights the fact that they return every year like clockwork. Apart from rare occasions when they can reach gale force, Etesian winds are not typically a cause of worry. Instead, they bring clear skies and slightly cooler temperatures.

Levant

Cloud Over Rock Of Gibraltar

This wind, meaning ‘rising’, forms in the Strait of Gibraltar when there is low pressure to the east of the peninsula and high pressure to the west. It sometimes creates fog or haze over the south of Spain and often a banner of cloud starts to gather above the Rock of Gibraltar. The wind is typically strong, especially when being funnelled through the Strait, and brings mild temperatures with sporadic rain. Weather experts can often predict the occurrence of strong Levant winds as they follow on from strong Mistral winds.


If you would like to feel these famous winds in the sails of Star Clipper, Star Flyer or Royal Clipper, call the team on 0845 200 6145. We also have agents standing by to answer your queries via live chat.

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