This was the first day with inclement weather since a long time, due to a depression building over the centre mediterannean. Luckily the winds did not affect us that much and it was only noticeable to the guests when we changed course coming out of the Strait of Messina. The wind was coming from the East South East and the mountain ridges of Calabria acted as a funnel. That gives the peculiar phenomena that the wind kept a direction just of the port bow, while we made a 100 degree course change. While we changed course, the wind changed direction as well, guided by the general lay of the mountain range. In the Strait of Messina, it blew from the south as the mountain range is North South, and when we came around the South point to the East, the wind followed the mountain ranges again. East -West.
Cruise ships catch a lot of wind and we ballast the ship to keep it from listing. However the pumps can not always keep up with the changing wind or the pace of the course change and then the ship will lean until we are on the next course. The pumps can compensate again. We have two internal tanks with a big pump in between that we use to transfer water from one side to the other. If that is not enough, we can use the regular ballast tanks. We can also transfer fuel from one side of the ship to the other (but that is a very slow process) or we can switch the drinking water consumption from portside tanks to starboard tanks and vice versa. We use close to 500 tons of drinking water each day, so by just switching can make a considerable difference to the listing of the ship.
By the time we had turned the corner and were heading into the Adriatic Sea, the wind started to increase but still from the South East and we were going north. That meant a following wind, so the relative wind on the deck was the true wind minus the ships speed and as are result it was still comfortable for the guests. Another thing with the Med. is that there is no ocean swell. All the waves are wind driven. It takes quite awhile before the wind has given the waves sufficient momentum that it becomes noticeable for a ship the size of the Veendam.
There can be very bad with autumn and winter storms in the area, especially if the winds blow for a number of days from the same direction but in the summer the gales are of short duration and the seas return to a smooth state very quickly. The one nice thing for us was that during the sailing through the Strait of Messina there were no fishing boats around. The SE wind, blowing against the current causes a lot of turbulence in the water and to be in there with a small boat gives the feeling as if you are navigating through a washing machine on full spin cycle. The big ships are not affected as the current eddies are too small but for a fishing boat it can be dangerous and so the fishermen were all at home waiting for the wind to die down.
The wind started to die down during the course of the evening and the weather forecast predicted the chance of a local thunderstorm for Dubrovnik. The word “local” is the unpredictable part of the forecast in Dubrovnik, as the weather can differ greatly within the range of a few miles, depending if there are mountains in between or not.