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Old 30-05-2023, 12:30   #1
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Orcas attacking sailboats, specifically rudders

Hey all,
Just saw several videos about orcas attacking sailboats and appear to be specifically aiming for the ruder. Considering that there is often no backup rudder, can you come up with a way to steer the boat if the original rudder is damaged or missing?

The other concerns is that attack on a ruder could create a hole below the waterline, then it's a really bad problem when aggressive orcas are circling.

Seems like a distress call is the right first step, but what can be done in the meantime?

I think that putting the vessel on the tightest possible turning radius and going in circles (provided the conditions allow for it) could be potentially helpful or running the engine so that the prop spins at the lowest speed would maybe keep them away from the rudder, but also has it's own major risks (losing prop, ripping a hole where the shaft enters the boat, etc)... any other ideas?

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Old 30-05-2023, 18:20   #2
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Re: Orcas attacking sailboats, specifically rudders

This has been happening for more than a year, IIRC, with hundreds of encounters. People have obviously been trying everything they can think of to discourage this behavior, to no avail. Orcas are a protected species, so hurting them does not seem to be a good idea. It would be too bad if you lost your boat to the Spanish or Portuguese authorities after saving it from the whales. The most recent suggestion is to cast sand into the water, to disrupt the whales' echolocation ability. Will be interesting to see if this is effective.
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Old 30-05-2023, 18:50   #3
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Re: Orcas attacking sailboats, specifically rudders

There are already a couple of other threads discussing these issues ad nauseum, I don't think we need another one:
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Old 09-06-2023, 11:38   #4
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Re: Orcas attacking sailboats, specifically rudders

This is not a new phenomenon. The three orcas that rammed and sank Dougall Robertson's wooden schooner in 1972 would have learned not to do such things if the hull had been steel instead. And Dougall and family would not have had to Survive the Savage Sea.

Yachts and their crews disappear at sea all the time. Logically more have been lost from this cause over the years than are recorded. Against all odds, Robertson & Co. survived to report the event, but probably most would not, particularly in the past.

Orcas are said to be highly intelligent and of course have very keen senses, which makes one wonder if they really did mistake the underwater profile of an old schooner for one of the larger whales they prey upon.

As the ex-Seaworld trainer mentioned, they can have a malicious side as well, and intelligent creatures can get bored and get into trouble when they seek excitement or entertainment; take dogs or humans for example.

Pulling the tongues out of baby gray whales or chasing other smaller creatures around can't keep Orcas amused all the time. Large whale populations and seal and sea lion populations seem to be at least stable, so apparently it's not a lack of potential amusements there.

Like other large mammals they probably have personalities and sooner or later a few ___________s are bound to turn up. If people are anything to go by, the aggressively anti-social seem to attract and dominate weaker individuals and pass on their behaviours to them.

If this is confined to one pod, and more severe measures are necessary, it might be wise to identify the pack leader who is the source of the problem and quietly dispose of them, whereupon the followers may revert to type?

A lance with a suitable detachable hypodermic and some delayed action contents might be the most prudent method. Any overt violence might well worsen the situation. A drone deployment might well be possible and would avoid any obvious association with vessels and their occupants.

Would be a pity, but might save both whales and humans in the longer term?
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