Bura - The Drama Queen

The Bura is the most furious wind on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. It is characterised quite rightly by the most extreme epithets because it starts to blow suddenly and immediately with great strength, always spasmodically and from a wide range of directions, from the north (when it is a relative of the Tramontana) almost all the way to the east, when it is already blowing from the quadrant near south.

On every pilot chart the areas are written where it gusts up reaching the greatest strength, which should certainly be borne in mind when sailing. Luckily for boaters, especially sailors the winter Bura, which can reach gusts of up to a measured maximum of 250 km/h (at the Masleničko Ždrilo strait), has another, milder summer face, which is far from the extreme one.

Unlike the winter Bura, the summer Bura generally lasts no longer than three days, and for experienced sailors it means fast, sports sailing full of adrenaline. However, inexperienced sailors should wait for its strength to subside. For both, as well as for those on motorboats, these few instructions and its phenomena are worth noting.

Whether you sail near the coast of the mainland, beneath mountain chains behind which the Bura comes to life, it is worth bearing in mind that it gusts down the hills following their configuration. When right alongside the coast there is a larger cove, above it there is always terrain in the form of a funnel, in other words, a letter ‘V’, so right in the middle where the two slopes join the Bura gains the greatest speed. When you sail to such a cove from the northwest direction, the wind will firstly blow half on your bow, when you are in front of the cove, it will be from the side, and when you have passed, suddenly it will blow half on your stern!

So, the Bura spreads like a fan from every such cove. The larger the bay, the larger its blowing fan. The further you are from the coast of the mainland, the Bura acquires a more uniform direction of force from the coast towards the open sea. There the waves are bigger but more uniform. Such a fan-like blowing, although somewhat less pronounced, can also be experienced when you think that you are protected from the Bura by a second or even third row of islands (Kornati, Hvar…), and if the place where you have intended to anchor is a slightly greater funnel valley, you can be certain that the Bura will be stronger there than where the configuration of the terrain is not so. On the second or third day of blowing particular waters are extremely difficult for sailing, not only because of the Bura but also because of the clash of sea currents which move in the opposite direction of its blowing or because of the sudden changes in the depth of the sea.

The waters between the island of Krk and Rab are extremely windy (the Senj Bura which blows there is one of the strongest in the Adriatic), as well as southeast of Ilovik, towards Silba and Premuda where from the channel and current great waves are created because of the Bura. Due to the same reason, as well as the collision of the Senj Bura and those Pag ridges that burst through the passage between the mainland and southeast from the point of the island of Pag, the sea is also very wavy southeast of the island of Silba, and there the waves also cross each other. In the shallow water of the Pirovac Bay and all the way towards the island of Vrgada the Bura is very strong, however, there are no large, just short waves full of sea foam that rises above the sea.

The Šibenik Bura is so strong that it reaches far out into the open sea, and it scoops up large waves along the north coast of Vis and into the Vis channel. The Vrulja Bura, which blows in the wide waters all the way from Split to south of Makarska, is very dangerous along the coast of Brač and Hvar, and it also blows violently in the channel between these two islands. The Pelješac Bura, Konavle Bura and the Bura which spreads from the Bay of Kotor are just some of the “famous ones”, and which start from the Northern Adriatic in the Gulf of Trieste.

The Bura has a constant day-night dynamic, therefore it blows the most powerfully from dusk to morning. Then it eases slightly, and it is the weakest from about midday for the next two to three hours. (It is said: that “the Bura has gone to lunch”). For that short time for those who do not want to sail during a strong wind and big waves, yet want to relocate to better shelter or to just change their surroundings, this is the right time to start sailing.

It is said that the Bura is a healthy wind because it brings refreshment and clears the air, and the droplets of the sea that it spreads far from the coasts of islands facing it are a clean disinfectant. Moreover, the sea spray which remains on the grass on which the sheep graze is one of the characteristics which give the special aroma to their meat and milk, and it is in fact due to the Bura that the island of Pag has become famous for its cheese and sheep, as is on other islands where sheep are raised. It is also used for another Adriatic delicacy, prosciutto ham, which is dried in the Bura, both in Dalmatia and Istria.