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At Poseidon Charters we love sailing…it’s who we are, it’s what we do best and we have been sharing Greece with hundreds of people every summer since the mid 90’s. Safety is always our paramount concern and respecting published forecasts is something we have to do to run our tours safely. On Sunday, after our new guests boarded in Ios, there was a tough decision to make, and it is with heavy heart that Capt's Steven and Akis have decided to not continue with our Athens to Ios itinerary this week. Extreme winds are heading over the Saronic and central Aegean from Tuesday and although both boats at 56ft and 60ft are equipped to deal with the weather, it is not a safe nor a comfortable passage for guests. Both cabin charter boats left Ios yesterday morning for a night under the stars at Kithnos and are now underway on a wonderful calm sail towards Athens. Tomorrow, and for the first time in over 25 years…our cabin charter boats, Christianna and Santorini will be safely in Athens, ahead of the extremely bad weather starting on Tuesday. This is obviously very disappointing for everyone concerned and we will try our best to ensure guests enjoy some arranged land tours if they choose.
The above as we said is so rare and a first for us to have to 'go home' early, however, we are fortunate, our expertly trained staff can make these informed decisions and act accordingly. Sailing is fun and an amazing vacation experience, and our return to port is so very unfortunate for our guests. If you are booking a cabin charter, before booking, do your research and sail with people who like us will put your safety first even if it means you may have to return to Greece at another point to fulfil your sailing itinerary dream. If you are sailing yourself, here's our top 5 tips for weather safety.
1. Check the weather
It may sound a silly thing to say...but the first thing to remember is to simply check the weather forecast before leaving the dock - it's incredible to see how many sailors don't as they see a calm port and blue sky. There are many ways to check the weather with today's technology. One of the easiest sites to check the weather in Greece is the sailing forecast on the Poseidon System (not related to Poseidon Charters). This system gives a very accurate prediction of sea state using the Beaufort scale. Remember, it may be blue sky and blue chart when you look right now, but think about where you are going, and what will happen in the next few days. The Poseidon System, will give you a 5-day sailing forecast.
2. Watch the waves - Beaufort scale
If you are already out on the water and not able to return to the dock straight away, it is important to ensure you understand the state of the sea to aid your safe passage and prepare for action.
The Beaufort wind force scale was devised in 1805 by British Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. Initially the scale did not reference wind speed numbers but related to effects on the sails. After many years of evolution, the scale is now an excellent visual guide of the wind conditions. In Greece, you will see the Beaufort scale used on all sailing forecasts so it is good to understand it prior to sailing in Greece.
Probable sea state
|3||7-10||Crests begin to break|
|4||11-16||Waves becoming larger, frequent white crests|
|5||17-21||Moderate waves, many white crests, some spray|
|6||22-27||Large waves, extensive white crests and some streaks between waves|
|7||28-33||Sea heaps up, waves breaking white foam blown in streaks|
|8||34-40||Moderately high waves, crests break into spindrift, white foam|
|9||41-47||High waves, crests topple spray affects visibility|
|10||48-55||Very high breaking waves, dense foram streaks|
|11||56-63||Exceptionally high waves, large patches of foam, large amounts of spray, reduced visibility|
|12||64+||Huge waves, sea is completely white with foam and spray, greatly reduced visibility|
3. Reef your sails
You're sailing along nicely, but while on watch you notice the waves becoming larger and a few white caps appearing. Don't wait until there is too much wind to make your canvas smaller! There is a saying, if you are thinking about reefing, it's probably already too late so make it happen. Many sailors head out not fully understanding their reefing systems. Sailing in more wind doesn't have to be scary, but having too much sail out will be. Learn how to reef your sails before even leaving the dock...if you are on a charter boat, every boat is slightly different so ask to be shown when you check in.
4. Consider the Lee Shore
When the wind is up, always be mindful of the lee shore - this is the shore that the wind will blow you onto if something were to break down with your systems. As a sailor it is always important to predict the next step, think of the worst case scenario and plan for it - a good sailor is mindful of the lee shore.
5. Be kind to yourself - ask for help and stay warm
When the conditions turn on you, as the Captain, don't try to be a hero. If you have people onboard with experience, then ask them for help. This could be something simple, like giving clear instructions as to what you want your crew to do - even if it is just for them to remain seated in the cockpit. When you get tired you get cold and this can happen even in a very warm climate. Sea spray and the mental energy used on watch will make you cold and tired so remember to ask for help and request that a crew member go down below to get your wet weather gear - as a good Captain, you will have left this in an easy accessible place in the salon before you set off of course!