Slogging West 3. Through the Straits to Lagos (Portugal)

The adventures of Chili III
Peter & Belinda Vernon
Wed 29 Jun 2022 09:26

37 06.0N 08 40.0W

29th June

We left La Linea at 0530 to catch a favourable tide through the Straits. There is a constant 1-2KN current flowing east from the Atlantic into the Med (water in the Med evaporating faster than it is replenished) but the tide counters this for 6 hours to some degree. It helped a bit but despite staying close inshore down to Tarifa we had around one knot against us (the net effect). We had researched the Orca threat of attacks to sailing boats in detail. In June they congregate in the Straits and just outside as the tuna migrate west and boat attacks have become common just in the last 2 years. There seems to be no reliable strategy to avoid these attacks. We were also conscious that this is their environment, no ours, and we should be doing what we can to avoid any stress to them. We followed the edge of the shipping lane heading due west for 30 miles before striking off NW towards Lagos and Cabo Sao Vicente hoping big ships might deter Orca’s and also keeping us well away from Barbate where most attacks had occurred.

At 1400 Belinda spotted an Orca 30 meters off the starboard quarter. After unrepeatable expressions of alarm we followed the recommended protocol: engine off, wheel free, life jackets on, keep out of sight. The wheel did spin (Orca nibbling the rudder?) but no bumps or bangs and soon there she was with large black fin on the port side slowing heading west. We waited 15 mins with the waves slapping the bottom of the boat in a sloppy sea and then carried on. A Circa research vessel called Elsa had been watching us through the binos. Over the radio we reported to them what we’d seen and they followed us for a while no doubt hoping for a spectacular Orca attack. Thankfully we disappointed them… no more sightings. Quite a relief.

After 30 hours of motoring into light headwinds we arrived in a very windy Lagos on the SW tip of Portugal and made our way through the narrow lifting bridge onto our berth. First impressions of Lagos…a very nice town, spectacular beach, and a lively and vibrant place. Much nicer than Almerimar and, definitely, Gibraltar.

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