top of page

Barry's Blog # 47 - That's not a Hurricane - That's a Medicane!

Yesterday, Thursday 28 September, the wind speed was concerning. Today it's worrying!

As I write this blog A B Sea is tied up to four rusty bollards which in turn are bolted into a concrete quay in a forlorn looking unfinished marina in Argostoli, Kefalonia, Greece. I can't find any information about when the marina construction began or why it was never completed, but judging by the look of the rusty bollards, the holes in the concrete where some of them have been ripped out and the large cracks from a past earthquake, quite a lot of time has passed.

Yesterday we experienced wind gusts up to 35 knots (65km/h - 40.5mph). The Beaufort wind scale describes that as a force 7 to force 8 where whole trees are in motion, an effort is needed to walk against the wind, high sided vehicles may veer on the road and skyscrapers may be felt swaying, especially by people on upper floors.

Today the wind gusts have been up to 45 knots (83.5km/h - 51.8mph). Mr Beaufort describes that as a force 9 where larger branches break off trees, some small trees blow over, construction or temporary signs and barricades will blow over and the bit I found quite amusing, there may be damage to circus tents.

Medicane Zorbas

Despite the concerns our minds create and what our wind instruments and eyes tell us, A B Sea is in a pretty well protected spot and we are over 160 nautical miles north from the actual storm that is creating these winds. The weather channels are calling it a 'Medicane' named 'Zorbas' a tropical-like storm that can reach a similar strength to a category 1 hurricane. Despite the corny name I would not like to be any closer than we are. The area of sea the storm is over is experiencing maximum wind speeds of 85.3 knots (158km/h - 98.2mph).

So what could go wrong?

Where do I start with this one! If the 'Medicane' changes direction and comes north we are going to be directly in the path of those big wind speeds and any rain it will bring. Right now A B Sea is tied up with her bow pointing east and her stern pointing west. The current wind is coming from the north east and that means we are being held off the concrete quay so it's quite comfortable and there is very little weight on our fenders. If the wind swings 180 degrees we'll be blown onto the quay with the potential of one or more of our fenders popping a valve as A B Sea's 9.6 tonnes of weight is forced against them. If all our fenders pop that means our hull and the concrete quay will be grinding against each other causing considerable damage to our hull.

One of the rusting hulks in the unfinished marina

While I'm on the subject of the wind swinging around, directly across from us about 30 metres (98 feet) away is an abandoned rusting old hulk of a cargo ship and it's tied to the concrete quay with some very dodgy looking lines. I don't know how much it weighs, but it will be a lot. Thankfully the current wind direction is blowing it onto the quay. A wind change could have the potential for it to strain against its holding lines, break free and then the wind would blow it onto us and several other yachts that are tied up behind and in front of us. There would be very little time for us to start our engine, untie all of our lines and get the heck out of the way.

We do have 8 lines attached to 4 bollards and some of the lines are of dubious age and quality which gives us concern that if the north east wind decides to blow constantly at 45 knots (83.5km/h - 51.8mph) there's a chance that some of the lines could break. If enough lines break the remainder may also be broken by the sheer weight of A B Sea multiplied by the force of the wind. That's not a scenario we like to dwell on. But for now everything is holding well and we are expecting the wind gusts to drop by Saturday lunchtime.

So what's the good news?

The good news is that the storm is moving slightly south and then east which is essentially away from our cosy little bolt hole. We are then hoping that the weather predictions are correct so that by Sunday morning, Monday at the latest, we should be able to make our way up to the Greek island of Ithaca where we will pair up with another yacht that Mike will help sail through the Corinth Canal and then make our way past the islands of the Aegean Sea to our winter destination of Kas in Turkey.

We have roughly 460 nautical miles remaining of this passage to Turkey and based on our travel time and speed from Spain to Greece we could potentially complete that distance in 72 hours. Aannsha and I don't have a deadline from here onwards, but Elaine needs to be back home in Turkey by October 12th as she is off on a girls holiday.

There is some bad news

We have run out of beer! Normally that wouldn't be an issue, we'd just jump in the dinghy and motor over to Argostoli town, tie up at the quay and walk 10 metres (32 feet) to the beer shop to restock. The problem is Zorbas, the 'Medicane', is kicking up some rough water between us and the beer so the dinghy is not an option.

However there is always a plan B and we can walk the 3.2 kilometre (2 miles) round trip into town. As captain I'll be asking for volunteers for this arduous mission and if none of the crew step forward I'll be completing it on my own, however I think that Mike will be the first to raise his hand once there is a mention of beer.

bottom of page