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OxoMoxo and the Lucky Turtle

by Vic-Maui, July 11th, 2018

Today, July 10, Vic-Maui International Yacht Race competitor OxoMoxo saw a sea turtle entangled in a ghost fishing net, took down the spinnaker, stopped the boat mid-ocean over 900 miles North-North-East of Hawaii, freed the turtle from the net, and removed the net from the water so it could not continue ‘fishing’.  

Congratulations from Vic-Maui to skipper Doug Frazer and the crew of OxoMoxo, a Swan 39 sailboat from the Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle. 

Caring for our ocean environment is a high priority for all sailors, and for our sport governing bodies including Sail Canada, US Sailing, and World Sailing.  If we don’t, who will?


The longer version of the story, courtesy of the boat's navigator Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski, with some editing:  

I was down below at the laptop (hoping to find a Snickers bar which was still cold enough to eat - we were following the old rule of navigation - if the butter starts melting you are too close to the center of the High) when I heard a call from the cockpit that we had just sailed past a sea turtle which was alive and stuck in a fishing net.

Our skipper, Doug Frazer, decided very quickly that we were going to go back to free the turtle. We were beam reaching (90 degree apparent wind angle) with our spinnaker and genoa staysail in 12 knots of wind at the time, making 6.5 - 7 knots of boat speed.  I stepped up the ladder in the companionway and got the lazy spinnaker sheet handed to me in preparation for a letterbox takedown.  We letterboxed the kite, turned the boat around 180 degrees, and sailed upwind with the staysail and main.  I got swim fins and a diving mask ready for Doug, and we pretty much executed our standard man overboard drill.  Reinhard Freywald was driving, and he positioned the boat just to leeward of the turtle and stopped the boat.  

Doug donned the mask and fins, and jumped in the water (he had mentioned he wanted to take an ocean swim but had missed his chance yesterday evening when we were becalmed), grabbed onto the fishing net and pulled himself back towards the boat using the Lifesling that we had deployed.  When Doug made contact with the boat, he handed off the fishing net to Preston Morgan on deck who was able to pull the net off the turtle's flipper.  We didn't want to get too close to the turtle since he looked angry and wanted to bite.  Doug climbed back aboard the boat using the swim ladder.  That's the last we saw of the turtle, as he swam away from the boat.  We turned back to our original course, packed and re-set the spinnaker.  Once we were back sailing in the right direction, we had a round of rum and have been sailing on a reach since.  

The entire rescue was (in my opinion) performed in a very seamanlike manner and completely under sail.  Great crew work.  

As far as the back story goes: Doug's sister Sherry's spirit animal was the Honu, or sea turtle.  Doug used to live in Hawaii for a while.  When Doug's sister passed away from cancer he got into sailing (and back into boating) and bought his first sailboat boat (a Hunter H170) which he sailed with Stefan Damstrom (who is also aboard).  After the Hunter, Doug bought an international H-Boat (Sisu) which Stefan now owns and sails on Lake Washington and Lake Union.  After outgrowing the H-Boat, Doug bought Oxomoxo 4 or 5 years ago, already thinking about doing Vic Maui. You know the rest of the story... here we are in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, racing to Maui in the Vic-Maui International Yacht Race.  


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