What to do when meeting an orca >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News


In Yachting Monthly, Andy Pag explores why orcas damaged yachts off Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar, and how to protect your boat:

Being chased, hit and gnarled by a group of orcas was “a mixture of horror and love,” says Yara Tibirica who encountered the animals as she sailed on her 35-foot catamaran, Slughunter.

“It’s a rare privilege to see orcas so mighty and majestic in the wild, but when they threaten your home the sight is a double-edged sword.”

Yara and her husband Jon Wright had decided to stay 1.5 miles offshore during their passage from Cadiz to Gibraltar in July this year, after reading the news feed on social media regarding encounters with this semi pod. -resident in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Since the start of the year, orcas have been pushing boats to stop them and gnawing at their rudders, leaving sailors shaken and stranded, in many cases relying on rescue tows to bring them back ashore.

Commonly referred to as “killer whales,” orcas are not, in fact, whales, but the largest member of the dolphin family. Orcinus orca can live up to 80 years, grow up to 9.75 m (32 ft), and weigh up to six tons.

In the eight months between June 2020 and March 2021, 52 encounters were reported around the Iberian coast, but there were more than 27 in July of this year alone in the Strait of Gibraltar. Initially, smaller monohulls were targeted, but now even larger 50ft catamarans have reported approaches.

Sonar on or off, sail or motor, day or night, the color of the hull – it has not yet been possible to pinpoint a common factor. – Full report

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