off limits

In response to the unusual orca attacks on sailboats off the coast of Galicia, Spain’s transport ministry has closed a section of its territorial seas to coastwise transits by sailing yachts.

The closure affects a strip of coastal waters extending between Ferrol and Punta Estaca de Bares, and it applies only to sailing yachts of less than 15 meters in length. Recent orca incidents have primarily affected midsize sailing vessels, according to the ministry.

The incidents with killer whales in Spanish coastal areas began on August 19, and over the intervening weeks there have been several attacks that have caused material damage – particularly damage to the vessels’ rudders. Several incidents required the intervention of Spanish maritime rescue assets to bring disabled yachts back into port. All the encounters with the killer whales took place about two to eight nautical miles from the coast, and the sailing speed ranged between five and nine knots, either exclusively under sail or with both sail and motor.  Read