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Captain's Blog

Wave Heights

With few tides and frequent periods of sustained high pressure weather systems, the Mediterranean is often a calm place. The Spanish have three different words for waves of less than 0.5 m, whereas us Brits have only one. The Balearics are no exception, with calm seas to be found often on the south coasts of Mallorca and Menorca. The North coasts tend to have larger waves, as a result of the long fetch to mainland Spain and France and the famous tramontana wind (known as the mistralin France which can blows from the north-west. Folklore holds that the tramonatana always blows in multiples of three days, and it can certainly set up a swell onto the north coasts and in the Menorca Channel.

To help with understanding the local forecasts, these are the English and Spanish wave height definitions.

Spanish English Wave height
Calma/Llana   0 m
Rizada   Less than 0.1 m
Marejadilla Smooth Less than 0.5 m
Marejada Slight 0.5 m - 1.25 m
Fuerte marejada Moderate 1.25 m - 2.5 m
Gruesa Rough 2.5 m - 4.0 m
Muy gruesa Very rough 4.0 m - 6.0 m
Arbolada High 6.0 m - 9.0 m
Montañosa Very high 9.0 m - 14.0 m
Enorme Phenomenal More than 14.0 m

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