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Ocean Safety 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Powerful forces in nature - Volcanos, Hurricanes and Orca whales

by Noonsite 30 Apr 11:35 UTC

Volcanos: In the midst of recovering from its largest Covid-19 surge and the start of hurricane season just seven weeks away, the Island of St. Vincent in the southern Caribbean suffered another brutal blow on April 9th when its youngest volcano, Soufriere, erupted.

Many cruising boats anchored around the island woke up to a thick layer of ash coating their decks containing tiny shards of rock and glass, which can cause havoc with boat systems, solar panels etc. The majority fled St. Vincent for islands further south. The volcano continues to erupt three weeks later and although there have been no reported casualties, over 9000 people have been displaced and recovery could take years.

Hurricanes: Adding salt to the wound, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual, something all Caribbean sailors are aware of as they prepare for June 1st. In our round-up last month of where to go as hurricane season approaches, we failed to mention Panama which is located south of the hurricane zone and is rarely affected by tropical storms or hurricanes. Entry requirements are straightforward and simple and boats can stay up to three years with most nationalities getting a 6-month visa. With a choice of marinas, multitude of anchorages and low costs, it is definitely a winter cruising ground to consider.

Wildlife: In 2020, several groups of Orca whales were encountered by yachts on passage off the coast of Portugal and NW Spain, which at times interacted with the yachts in a "threatening" manner. More information has been released by the RCCPF and the Madeira Whale Museum on the Orcas' migration habits and what best to do if Orca are sighted. For any yachts planning a passage around the Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsula, from Gibraltar to the Bay of Biscay, this report gives lots of advice and information sources so you can keep abreast of interactions this year.

Wherever you are bound this transit season, we wish you fair winds and good health.

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