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Spade Rudders and the Gibraltar Orcas

Coincidentally, the day after we published a story on spade rudders we heard of yet another boat that was attacked and sunk by orcas near the Strait of Gibraltar. A Polish Jeanneau 449, Grazie Mamma II, was sailing off the coast of Morocco when the crew reported a pod of orcas attacking it for 45 minutes before the boat started leaking and eventually sank. This continuation of behavior appears to be unique to the area and has resulted in about 500 encounters between orcas and yachts. The New York Times reported this is the fourth yacht sunk by orcas in the area.

In Nicki Bennett’s podcast with Ronnie Simpson this week, he also said one of the competitors in the Global Solo Challenge had their rudder damaged by orcas as they made their way from Gibraltar to the start in A Coruña. Amazingly, a race boat did catch the orcas on video in the act of attacking their rudder this past summer.

Are these orcas just playing around? The behavior remains unexplained and, thankfully, does not appear to be spreading beyond the area around Gibraltar.


1 Comment

  1. Tom Carr 8 months ago

    While making a passage to Hawaii in 2004 on our Dreadnought 32, a shakedown cruise for our planned 4 year cruise 2 years in the future, we encountered a pod of about 7 or 8 orcas mid-Pacific. We were headed West and they, about 200 yards South of us were intently headed East. As we passed each other one of the Orcas peeled off and swam over and started trailing us beneath the surface about 30 feet behind. One of the items that we were testing was a pendulum servo steering system of my design that had aft swept F/G servo blade. At the time I was wondering was this a tempting appendage that attracted its attention. With all the recent attacks on spade rudders these ‘fins’ might excite the orcas. Happily our orca didn’t attack us but peeled off and rejoined it’s pod

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