Lone sailor stranded on yacht as pod of five killer whales circle around him
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A lone sailor was left stranded on his yacht after a pod of five killer whales circled around him.
The French sailor, Phep Philouceros, was forced to broadcast a Mayday distress alert on Monday (7 August) after coming into very close contact with the whales which ripped off his rudder and left him fearing for his life.
Phep even managed to capture footage from the harrowing moment and has, luckily, lived to tell the tale.
He had been sailing in around 25 metres of water.
One of the five whales can been seen 'stalking' the yacht and attacking the rudder, which was allegedly destroyed in just 'one minute'.
Recalling the incident, Phep, who is 70 years old, said he heard the hull of the boat crack but luckily didn't notice any water coming in.
It was at this point that he send out the Mayday and, within 15 minutes, a rescue boat had reached his location.
However, even then, the orcas didn't leave the boat alone.
For 30 minutes the orcas continued to approach Phep's twin-keel boat, named Oxygene, which was being towed back to the safety of the shore of Sagres, where he still is.
Phep, who is retired, is an experienced navigator and has been at sea for the last few months after leaving Gruissan in France three months ago.
Phep was aware of the reported orca sightings in the area and, before he set sail from Sagres, he checked an app which lists recent orca encounters.
"I use an app called Orca Atlantica which lists orca encounters in the area and I also listen to what local authorities are advising," he explained
"After leaving Lagos and before reaching Cape St. Vincent, I stopped in Sagres to check the latest news on the app."
The sailor continued: "There hadn't been any sightings of orcas that day so I went ahead but unfortunately I wasn't lucky."
However, by the time Phep had spotted the five orcas nearing his boat, it was already too late.
"People don't realise how quickly these things happen," he added.
He also explained that he 'didn't have time' to use acoustic underwater 'pingers' or set of firecrackers to scare off the animals.
The sailor recalled how he had attempted to stop his engine or reverse in an attempt stop the attack but neither came to any avail.
"The rudder was destroyed in one minute and pulled out," he said. "They also rammed blows on the twin keels of the boat."
Phep also stated: "In total there were five orcas but only two attacked the boat.
"I think there were young orcas. They were about six or seven meters long. They were neither adults or babies."
The sailor claimed the 'attack wasn't violent', before adding: "The boat moved, it rotated but didn't capsize.
"If the orcas really wanted to sink the boat, they could have done it easily. I don't think it was their intention."
Phep, who has an impressive 55 years of sailing experience, has revealed this is the first time an orca has ever 'attacked' a boat he was on.
Whales have seemingly made a lot of headlines this year after scientists theorised about whether orcas in the Mediterranean area had 'learned' to attack boats.