Monday, May 9, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Wind is All

Wind is as important to sailing ships as gasoline is to the modern motor car. Without wind you’re not going anywhere with the exception of galleys manned with oars. Most real sailors didn’t think much of that type of transportation, I can tell you.

Knowing the winds around the world could take a lifetime, and many old salts did memorize the wind patterns in various seas and oceans. Some of the most pronounced winds had – and still have – names that allowed people effected by them to identify exactly what was coming, or had come. Here are the major winds around the world, some of which will no doubt be familiar to the Brethren and all of which are very much alive and blowing today.

Chinook: a warm, wet easterly wind off the mountains of south central Alaska that blows into the Cook Inlet and out to the Bering Sea. Generally confined to winter months.

Harmattan: hot, easterly wind filled with dust, blowing off the west coast of Africa into the Atlantic.

Levanter: summer easterly or north easterly wind on the North African coast of the Mediterranean.

Mistral: cold, dry northwest wind in the Gulf of Lyon, the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Norte: a northerly gale in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pampero: southwesterly gales blowing out of the Argentinean pampas into the Atlantic.

Papagayo: strong northeasterly wind with clear weather on the west coast of Central America.

Santa Ana: hot, dry wind moving west from the California desert to the Pacific.

Sirocco: dry southerly wind from Africa’s Sahara, blowing across the Mediterranean.

Solano: southeasterly wind full of dust blowing from Africa across the Mediterranean into Southern France and Spain.

Tehuantepecer: savage northerly wind in the Gulf of Tehuantepec off southern Mexico.

Tramontana: cold and unpredictable wind blowing down the Adriatic. This wind is also known as Gli Secchi.

Willi Waw: wind gusts blowing down steep mountainsides as in the Strait of Magellan and off Gibraltar.

Header: Ships in a Raging Storm by O. Ragstrom c 1690


Blue Lou Logan said...

Chinook and Santa Ana I both know well. Alas, the rest remain exotic to me.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Lou! Me too aside from the Norte, which is no fun at all.

Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! I know well (and loathe) both the Chinook and Santa Ana winds... And of course I'm familiar with the Sirocco (or Scirocco) as well... I've heard of a few of the others, but was not too familiar with them. Thanks for enlightening me!

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! Generally speak wind with a name = bad times. Just sayin'.