The Meltemi are otherwise known as the North Winds. The Turkish use the term Meltem, the Greeks – Etesian. These winds are strong dry north winds that blow during the summer boat charter season in the Aegean. The winds start during mid May right through to mid September – and some claim until October. It starts in the afternoon (quite strong) until the early evening when it dies down. This is one of the reasons yacht charters like to start the days’ cruise in the mornings, in order to avoid the Meltemi before it begins. Sometimes these winds go on for days without a break. Most captains prefer not to sail during this time as the Meltemi does get strong and blow at 7-8 and sometimes up to 9 Beaufort. In the Aegean they blow northeasterly moving south in the North Aegean.
There are benefits to the Meltemi. But there are regions not as favored to travel during yacht charters in Greece or from Turkey to Greece.
Below are few points to keep in mind.
- These winds generally bring low humidity, good visibility while sailing and beautiful blue clear skies.
- It is also a splendid relief when it’s hot during the Eastern Mediterranean summer months, July and August.
- Also, the beaches are great in areas for windsurfing and kitesurfing if you aren’t seeking calm waters for swimming and snorkeling.
- If you are in the Cyclades, namely Santorini, the winds affect the north east side of this island (the part where boats come from in Turkey).
- Some travelers choose to cruise from Bodrum, Turkey to Santorini. As the winds blow across, it is not preferred by captains at all and constant shelter may be required, which takes away from the time on your vacation.
- There is a corridor from Bodrum and Dodecanese islands and Cyclades where it is noted that the Meltemi blows undisturbed across 100 miles. A source further notes that within 6 hours, of a 30-knot wind, the waves can reach as high as over 3 meters and can be dangerous for some charter yachts.
- Generally, the captains wait for a drop in the wind and then continue with the trip. But again as these winds are unpredictable, there is no guarantee that there will be a drop during your trip.
- It begins in the morning around 9:00am. Afternoons is when it’s mainly strong. Night time it dies down.
- Meltemi winds average 4 to 5 Beaufort and can reach 5 – 7, and possibly 8 – 9.
- Travelers who are sailing enthusiasts enjoy these winds. However for those who prefer a more relaxing sailing trip, this wind doesn’t bode favorable conditions.
- Meltemi can possibly be dangerous for amateur sailors. But when you are on a crewed yacht charter, your captain is experienced – but still, prefer not to sail during these winds so as not to make the guests uneasy.
- Meltemi can act without warning and can go on for up to 10 days repeatedly.
- For blue cruise travelers, the alternative region for sailing charter holidays is the Ionian sea and not affected by the Meltemi. The Ionians; Corfu instead have the Maistro winds during the yacht charter season and calmer for a peaceful and relaxing boat holiday in Greece. But the selection in gulets is very limited (there may only be 1 – 3 gulets in that region) therefore gulets from Turkey must be delivered which is added expensive cost.
- Other alternative areas are the South Dodecanese and the Eastern Mediterranean from Marmaris to the east, Fethiye, Gocek, Kas, Kalkan. This region is much calmer the further east you go. The Dodecanese is ideal during June, July, August and September with very tolerable Meltemi winds that make for a pleasant feeling during the hot summer months.
Talk to your charter agent about your options when planning a yacht or boat charter holiday in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean of Greece and Turkey.