Saturday, 7 September 2013

When the Wind is Not a Wind

Alexandros is what I'd call the "Deck Manager" on board the Nissos Halki, the boat that plies the waters between Halki island and the tiny port of Kamiros Skala on the West coast of Rhodes in perpuity. Winter or summer, that boat makes the crossing, making an exception only when the weather's so rough that they have to stay tied up at one end or the other.

Alex is a thin rake of a man, probably sixty-something and no doubt has many decades of experience with all things nautical in the Aegean Sea. He has a shock of grey hair which rather puts me in mind of the old sixties rock and roller from the UK, Joe Brown [excuse for a link there. Much overlooked and very talented musician who nowadays sounds like a cross between Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale,so can't be bad eh?], although his face is considerably thinner around the jaw line. Of course, Joe probably dyes his these days, but Alexandros most certainly doesn't. 

His standard dress code is the ubiquitous horizontally striped polo shirt that no Greek male of a certain age would be seen dead without (if you don't get that, just you cast your eyes about next time you're in a Greek street!) along with a pair of faded and slightly too large blue jeans, even in the height of summer when the thermometer is groaning under a showing of around 40ºc. Alex always has a three-quarters-smoked cigarette which usually is also three-quarters ash hanging off his bottom lip and has you on tenterhooks waiting for that ashy bit to drop off at any moment. Much stress is caused for anyone talking to him who is distracted by this regular phenomenon.

He cracks a well-wrinkled smile born of a face that's never seen sun cream and has always been exposed to the torrid Greek sun. He's always on the ship's gangway to welcome us aboard and usually we exchange slaps on the back during our weekly greeting as I lead my band of excursionists aboard for the Halki crossing.

Alexandros is a no-nonsense Greek. So, as we plied our way across to Halki yesterday, on mercifully much calmer waters than we'd endured the preceding week, I decided that he'd be the man to answer a burning question that was preoccupying my mind. See, as regular readers will know, I've stated on a few occasions that local Greeks tell me all the time about how the Meltemi [that strong wind which blows North to South across the Aegean during the high summer weeks] stops around the middle of August. In fact, more than one has said "August 15th", to my incredulous ears. But last week we had some very high winds for several days, and this around the end of August/beginning of September. So strong were they, that I was staggering around the decks waving a liberal supply of plastic bags for the hapless landlubbers to throw up into! 

"Alexeh," I asked, "I thought that the Meltemi was meant to have stopped by now. What was all that about then, last week?"

"You mean the winds? Yes, they were pretty wild. We had to stay in port one time early last week, it was so rough."

"But," I pressed, "How come the Meltemi hasn't stopped by now?"

"Ah, yes, well," he countered, "It has. The Meltemi only blows during the afternoon or early evening. That what we had last week wasn't the Meltemi, it was just the wind."

Yea, I know. Greek logic eh?

1 comment:

  1. I love it!
    And he's probably right, it was just normal wind. As the mother of 2 kitesurfers I have learned all sorts of useless(to me)information about the weather at sea.