The Adriatic coast is one of the most popular holiday destinations and Croatia boasts a rich cocktail of stunning landscapes, turquoise sea, countless islands and islets and picturesque seaside towns. But more importantly, it is a sailing paradise. On the open sea and in coastal waters, you can experience sailing in almost all weather and wind conditions, that can be enjoyed by both beginner sailors and experienced mariners alike.
What's the Marin?
The Marin is a warm, moist wind typical of the Mediterranean, blowing from the southeast and tending to veer south. Developing over the sea, it brings humidity and mist that can reduce visibility and although milder off the coast, it reaches higher speeds in the open sea. The Marin winds blow all year round and usually take two forms.
From around May to September, the Marin is rather weaker and without significant changes in direction or gusts. From autumn to spring, however, the wind is more frequent, strong and gusty depending on the type of terrain. During this period, the Marin winds are characterised by high, breaking waves that crash violently against the shore. The wind is moist and, when passing over land, brings heavy rainfall and mist from the moisture it absorbs on its journey across the sea.
As its power depends on the presence of low pressure in the western Mediterranean and high pressure towards the Alps and central Europe, you can predict it even without weather apps such as Windy.app. You'll be able to tell when the Marin is approaching by the rising temperature, humidity and falling pressure. The retreating Marin leaves a distinct smell of salt in the air. Depending on the time of year you are sailing, you can then determine whether you are in for smooth sailing or whether you should postpone setting off from the marina for a few days.
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The Marin is most commonly encountered in the southern coastal region of France (Languedoc), where it blows almost as often as the Mistral. It heads from the southeast of the Mediterranean Sea towards the mountain slopes in this region. This causes mist, fog, severe thunderstorms to supercells and the threat of torrential rain. Bringing low pressure, particularly in winter, it can reach gale force if it meets the passage of a warm front. Together with its counterpart, the dry northerly Tramontane wind, it forms the weather dynamics on the Mediterranean coast.
Marin, Jugo or Sirocco: typical southeasterly winds
In the Mediterranean, winds from the south and southeast are very common. Although their basic characteristics are the same, they have their specifics on different parts of the southern European coast. As a result, it is known by different names in various countries. The French call it Marin (it is mainly active in the Gulf of Lion off the coast of the Languedoc-Roussillon area), the Italians call it Scirocco, the Slovenians and Croatians široko, with the Croatians referring to the more localised winds as jugo.
Common features include, of course, the direction from south to southeast. The weather brought by this type of wind is determined by the flow of air masses from sea to land, over which varied temperatures and humidity prevail. The warm, dry air that has formed over land sweeps over the Mediterranean, absorbing moisture. The French Marin is created by the warm airflow over the Iberian Peninsula and low pressure over southern Europe. The Jugo or Sirocco has its origin over the African mainland.
While the summer months do not bring much cloud cover and the winds are light and steady (around 6 Beaufort), from October to April it reaches high speeds of tens of knots and sometimes even hurricane force (12 Beaufort). It is also usually accompanied by cloudy skies, fog, heavy rain and thunderstorms. In fact, an approaching Sirocco leads to a flood risk warning among Venice residents.
Because the Marin forms under well-understood meteorological conditions and then travels across the sea, it is possible to predict several days in advance, giving plenty of time to adjust your route and schedule. South and southeasterly winds develop slowly and last for several days, unlike the Bora that can hit out of nowhere.
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Sailing tips when the wind is coming from the sea
The Marin as well as the related Jugo or Sirocco winds can be predicted quite well and accurately by changes in pressure, temperature and humidity, or simply by weather forecasts, weather models and modern technology. Knowing the weather ahead of time will help you avoid dangerous situations at sea, in port or at anchor. This means you can plan your voyages and enjoy cruising without complications and unpleasant surprises. For example, if you know how fast you can sail due to the strength of the wind and when you will reach your destination, you can simply book your marina online.
If the wind is blowing landward from the sea (onshore wind), it is almost definite that the strongest winds and biggest waves are in the open sea. Exposed coastlines are often windy, where the waves can also break deceptively based on the relief of the seabed. You should also be careful in narrow passages between islands, between islands and the mainland, or in other places where wind channels are formed which increase the wind strength and the size of the waves (in Croatia, for example, the islands of Mali Losinj, Stary Grad or Vela Luka). In wider channels, the wind strength may decrease, but there is a risk of unpredictable gusts (islands of Pasman, Ugljan). Outer islands in the open sea, such as Vis, Biševo or Lastovo, are best avoided altogether.
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Whatever the wind direction, experienced sailors know that it is best to anchor in the lee of the island, where the boat is better protected from waves and wind. In respect to the Marin (and also the Jugo/Sirocco), avoid the bays and shorelines on the south and southeast sides of the islands and head northwest or west. Of course, when anchoring, be sure to check the forecast to see if the wind will be turning overnight.
Where to anchor during the Marin
In the event of strong or variable winds, it is safer to anchor in a marina, rather than mooring on a buoy, where you can secure the boat with mooring lines that can be tightened as needed to prevent damaging it against the jetty. In addition, marinas are overwhelmingly sheltered by natural barriers or breakwaters to buffer the rough seas.
Leave the port only when you are confident that you will be able to manage the sea conditions. As the Marin is a type of wind that announces its arrival several days in advance and then dies down for several days, it is worth considering whether to postpone your departure for another day or two. Especially if you are sailing with an inexperienced crew. Experienced sailors, on the other hand, will enjoy great sailing in strong winds and waves.
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