Winds in Croatia
In the past, wind was perceived as a blessing, a benign force which carried seamen towards great discoveries in the time when sailors ruled the seas and oceans. Today, yachtsmen and sailors, as the last guardians of the wind, ride the waves in search of adventure and the challenges of nature.
Every wind has its own characteristics which can help us predict whether the wind will strengthen, cease or announce the arrival of another wind. A good knowledge of the wind will enable us to catch the right one that can lead us to our goal.
The winds of the Adriatic mainly originate from the differences in temperatures of the land and the sea and due to differences in air pressure. Air circulation and changes from warm to cold air create pleasant winds that continuously fill the sails with their force. These are the "Burin" and "Maestral" winds.
The correct transition of the daytime "Maestral" and the night-time "Burin" is a sign of stable weather that will last. Abrupt changes of air-pressure announce stronger winds that are worth avoiding by sailing to one of the numerous sheltered bays and harbours.
The arrival of a particular wind, whether good or bad, can be recognised by experienced sailors by the clouds and the sunsets. A clear sky and a sunset of strong, lively colours are the signs of good weather. A pale and blurry sunset announces a worsening of the weather. Small fluffy clouds above the island hills signify a "Maestral" and therefore pleasant sailing weather..
A cover of clouds above the peak of the inland mountains announces the arrival of the "Bura", the wind that doesn't give the sailors enough time to prepare for its strong blows and which therefore requires much caution.
The favourite predictors of weather for many seamen are the dolphins. Although initially providing a lovely sight, their presence often precedes a worsening of weather. The direction from which the dolphins swim is where one can expect bad weather to arrive from.
In summer, the "Maestral" is the most common wind. By uniformly blowing in the same direction and due to its cooling effect, the "Maestral" has determined the building pattern of ancient Dalmatian streets. The city streets are open in the direction of the "Maestral" in order for the breeze to circulate through the town.
In order to adjust to the winds, one must get to know them, and in order to make sure they always fill your sails, it's necessary to recognise the fundamental characteristics of every wind.
The structure of the Adriatic region's wind movements comprises 8 main winds.
The "Bura" is an unpredictable, north-western wind blowing from the inland towards the sea. It blows in bursts and is both cold and dry, and as such purifies and brightens the atmosphere. The visibility after the "Bura" is excellent and the weather is sunny and clear.
Sailing during the "Bura" is exciting and challenging. However, it requires caution, regarding readiness of both the boat and its crew. Experienced seamen have a proverb: "The Bura says: 'When I sail, you don't!' ". Short, high waves with white crests are its characteristics, making the navigation difficult. The small drops formed by the wind create a so-called "sea smoke" that reduces the visibility significantly. However, the "Bura" also has its good side. Thanks to the dry air it brings, the Adriatic speciality of wind-dried ham ('pršut') gets its distinctive quality.
The "Jugo" is a south-western, warm and humid wind of moderate force that blows from the sea towards the inland. It appears along the length of the coast in all seasons, although in summer it is somewhat less frequent. This wind, which gradually strengthens, creates long, soundless and foamless waves that hit the shore and then draw themselves back towards the high seas with a roar.
The "Jugo" offers a particular experience to dynamic navigators, enabling the sailboat to reach high speeds. Additionally, fish usually bite well during this weather.
The "Maestral" is a typical summertime Adriatic wind blowing from the north-west, bringing nice and stable weather. This pleasant wind begins blowing around dawn and lasts until sunset. During summer, it offers a welcome cooling effect, bringing cleaner, healthier and colder air from the sea. The wind is of moderate strength and thanks to this, it is suitable for sailing, so that you can safely yield to the movement of sea and let the waves peacefully embrace the sides of the boat.
The remaining winds are of less significance for the inhabitants of the Adriatic area, but further out at sea they may be favourable to sailors. (These winds may leave a pleasant whistling in the ears, reminding you of an unforgettable summer!):
Tramuntana - northerly, cooling wind that announces pleasant and beautiful weather.
Grego - usually a moderate or strong north-easterly wind carrying dry, clear and cold weather.
Levant - easterly wind that blows during cloudy, humid or rainy weather.
Oštro - southerly, warm and damp wind.
Lebić - south-westerly, dry and warm wind which blows on the Adriatic after the Jugo, levelling the waves in shallow harbours.
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