Did I ever mention that Crete can be windy?

Today it is windy: my blissful slumbers were terminated by the sound of the awning flapping outside. It was around 5 am so still dark. Since I spent a lot of time dozing in the sun yesterday, and until about 02:30 outside in my lounger, getting up at 5 wasn’t too daunting. Wandering around with my head torch on, I could see that the long bolts I had driven into the ground had worked loose so the two legs of the awning were able to move up and down. The material was slack so slapping under the arms of the frame. I took one of the wire 5m dog cables and tied one end to one of the fence posts, the other I passed over the aluminium bearer of the awning and to the ground the other side. Fortunately, there was a trusty piece of reinforcing rod lying under the van so I drove that into the rocky ground with a club hammer. Having fastened the other end of Luis’ wire to the stake, I adjusted the awning legs and tensioned the fabric. In the normal course of events, tensioning the fabric would be an easy task. However, as we all know, nothing is ever as easy as it should be.

Over a year ago, whilst parked in a smelly lay-by on the Athens to Corinth motorway, waiting for the evening ferry to Crete, I decided to deploy the awning since the sun was very hot. Suddenly a strong wind blew up and the legs of the awning were unfastened, standing on the concrete, and the awning got out of control. Grabbing the hand crank, I started to wind in the awning when a piece of the aluminium spigot which engages the winding mechanism broke off leaving only one piece to engage. This resulted in a very difficult winding procedure since the crank kept jumping off the spigot. Finally, I managed to get the awning wound back into its carrier and the legs folded up. This time was even more difficult since there were the branches of the olive tree which I had tied back to the ladder at the back of the van in order to enable me to deploy the awning in the first place. These branches and the restraining cords were, naturally, directly in the way of where the crank needs to access the winding mechanism. Deploying the awning on a quiet, still morning with plenty of time, is completely different to trying to wind it back in again with a broken spigot and olive branches at 5 am between strong gusts. Still, I managed to tension it in the hope of being able to have another go at deploying it properly later when the wind had subsided.

The wind is even stronger now, 16:30, and the fabric was flapping since the angle of the wire rope was not ideal to tension it properly. To save damage to me, the awning and the van, I decided to have a go at winding it in. Not easy with the broken crank, the olive branches and the wind gusting to 18.8m/s or 42 mph if you prefer. I couldn’t completely undo the wire rope or the awning would flap uncontrollably in the wind, so I wound it in a bit, slackened the wire, wound it in a bit more and so on. I also had to fold in the awning legs, despite the other olive branches and also prevent the branches from jamming the awning profile as it enters the box. Naturally, the awning box is mounted high on the side of the van with olive branches in the way!

At least now I have learned that there are a number of prerequisites if I am to have an extension tent on my van for the winter:

The first is that the wind can get to well in excess of 50 mph so whatever I buy needs to be able to survive this.

he feet of the awning legs will need to be easily bolted to the decking to prevent the frame from rising up if the wind gets under it

The spring-loaded additional storm straps are an essential accessory
Additional webbing straps connecting from the van side to the ground over the awning would be a worthwhile investment

It’s worth spending the extra money on the tent with the stronger material
So there you have it, my awning adventures of the day.
Janne’s fence is still standing!


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