Orcas change our sailing plan

Thu 12 Aug 2021 13:22
37:12.65N 07:24.40W

So not very long since our last post, but a big change to our plans following the two week ban imposed by the Spanish Government for 15 metre and under vessels between Cabo Trafalgar and Barbate, a stretch of sea between us and Gibraltar. Orca whales have been targeting sailing boats, often spinning them and frequently biting off rudders and following three such incidents in the same day, the ban has been put in place. To wait for the ban to finish will hamper our timeline, even without the possibility of it being extended.

We left Lagos and headed to Albufeira, where we were given the largest berth we’ve ever enjoyed amongst the super yachts, which did make us look rather small. The buildings around the marina were painted in a unique mix of orange, green, blue, pink and yellow. Very touristy but a convenient one night stopover.

There has been very little wind over the last few days, so we had a very gentle sail from Albufeira to Ayamonte using our cruising chute, which just happens to be purple! Certainly an easy sail choice as it has a ‘sock’ over it that is hoisted when ready to fly. The wind direction was reasonably constant and even with restricted sea areas, both military zones and fish farm, only one gybe was needed in several hours of sailing.

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Ayamonte is a short distance up the Guadiana river that in a further 55 nautical miles arrives at Seville. Our mast is just too high to allow us to pass under the suspension bridge, so not a passage we’ll be making. The river is the border between Spain and Portugal with Ayamonte being on the Spanish side, so our departure from Portugal. The Portuguese border force were checking boats in the river, but weren’t interested in us once they could see our Spanish courtesy flag flying.

With our plans to sail to Gibraltar no longer being feasible and the Moroccan Spanish sea borders closed indefinitely, we’ll be heading to the Canary islands as soon as we have a suitable weather window.

This will be our longest passage yet at nearly 600 nautical miles as the crow flies….