Ocean turtle jammed on keel
Volvo Ocean navigator of Telefonica Black, Roger Nilson, tells of an unexpected encounter with a creature of the deep:
‘The warm current brought something with it that caused an unexpected little adventure. Suddenly the whole boat started to vibrate and the steering felt very strange. Nothing was hanging on the rudders so what could it be? David took the endoscope and put it through it’s hole in the bottom of the boat to inspect the keel and daggerboard. He burst out into a roaring laughter.
“Look, look there is a big turtle stuck on the leading edge of the keel, unbelievable!”
Nobody believed him till we all had a quick look through the optical instrument. Sure, there it was, a three foot full-size ocean-going turtle was hanging on the front side of the thin keel blade and desperately trying to free itself with all its four little paddle-like fins. Fernando at the helm was doing everything to help it come loose, first by swinging the keel from side to side, finally he put the boat into a full broach in the modest 15 knots SSW’ly wind. Ericsson 4, only two miles behind us, must have been wondering what we were doing, steering all over the ocean in order to free ourselves from a turtle!
No luck, the turtle was still stuck pressed onto the keel by 13 knots of boat speed.
“Let us stop the boat and back off!” is the call from Fernando and soon we drop the kite on the foredeck, go head to wind, stop and with the help of the staysail, go backwards.
“There it is, just next to the boat..!” says David and we can all see the seemingly unhurt turtle swimming around on the surface in gentle circles. What a ride for the poor animal! It looks happy and we wave goodbye, hoist the kite and off we go again. Ericsson 4 is now a few hundred metres behind but hours later, they have passed us with their irritating edge in boat speed.’