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Friends, bosses remember Capt. Rob Fregeolle

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By Dorie Cox

Capt. Robert Byron Fregeolle died May 26 in a motorcycle accident in Fort Lauderdale. He was 32.

Originally from Maine, Capt. Fregeolle started his career in yachting as a deckhand with Capt. Ken Bracewell on M/Y Rena, a 145-foot NQEA. His first cousin, Capt. Brendon Pomeroy, put him forward for the job after he completed his degree in mechanical engineering from ‎Wentworth Institute of Technology.

“There was nothing in the job market for him, so he reached out,” Capt. Pomeroy said. “You get inquiries all the time from people that don’t follow up. His was immediate and prompt and he was there the next day, ready to start.”

Capt. Fregeolle worked his way to the first officer position with Capt. Bracewell and later worked with Capt. Brad Baker on M/Y Rena. He stayed with the yacht for about six years, even when Capt. Pomeroy recommended he add other experiences to his resume.

“I coached him to move on, but he never moved on; he had loyalty to the owners,” Capt. Pomeroy said. “I admired  that about him.”

Many family and friends outside of yachting did not realize how much Capt. Fregeolle was respected in the industry, Capt. Pomeroy said.

“He became remarkable guy,” he said. “At his memorial, there were all walks of life … from previous owners to bottom painters, welders, carpenters; everyone was heartbroken. He saw people for who they were and related with them.”

“When I first hired him, his resume said Robert, so I asked what I should call him,” Capt. Bracewell said. “He said, ‘You can call me anything.’ I said, ‘Okay, Swabby’. There are dozens of people who call him Swabby.”

On M/Y Rena, the crew “put a lot of miles on, pretty much the entire coastline of Europe,” according to Capt. Bracewell, who said Capt. Fregeolle was a valuable crew member, both smart and funny.

“He was clever,” Capt. Bracewell said. “The owner of Rena said he was the least opinionated person she had met. He would say ‘that could be so’.”

Capt. Fregeolle earned his 200-ton U.S. captain’s license and ran M/Y Firefly with Fleet Miami last summer, and M/Y Incentive, a 145-foot Palmer Johnson. Even though he had been off Rena for a year and a half, Capt. Baker said the yacht owners are “pretty shaken” and the crew have been reminiscing.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, I’ll tell you he was a good guy, he never questioned me, he was loyal,” Capt. Baker said. “And fun.”

Capt. Fregeolle bought his motorcycle about 10 years ago and had ridden in the National Marine Suppliers Poker Run last October. Although the family has not suggested a charity for donations, Capt. Bracewell said he and Capt. Fregeolle had a great ride and were supportive of the ride’s designated charity for its support of U.S. special operations service members and their families.

“He really liked the Task Force Dagger Foundation,” Capt. Bracewell said. “Maybe that as a donation?”

As master of Firefly, Capt. Fregeolle worked closely with Capt. Sean Noel and the crew of MY Moksha, an 87-foot Warren that was part of Fleet Miami in Washington, D.C.

The “two crews meshed on and off the water,” according to Capt. Noel, and “Rob quickly became a close and integral part of the Washington D.C. team.”

“He was the quintessential team player, always willing, and always putting others ahead of himself,” Capt. Noel wrote in an email. “He always got the job done and he always had a great attitude. If I could ask for a cloning machine for crew, he would be the model.”

Capt. Fregeolle is survived by his parents and two sisters. Friends organized a celebration of life in Fort Lauderdale and Washington, D.C. on May 30. His funeral was held in York, Maine, on June 2.

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.

ORIGINAL POST: MAY 27, 2019, 6:17 PM
Capt. Robert Byron Fregeolle died yesterday in a motorcycle accident in Fort Lauderdale. He was 32.

Originally from Maine, he started his career in yachting with Capt. Ken Bracewell on M/Y Rena, a 145-foot NQEA, as deckhand.

His first cousin, Capt. Brendon Pomeroy, put him forward for the job after he graduated from ‎Wentworth Institute of Technology in the Boston area with a degree in mechanical engineering.

On Rena for six years, Capt. Fregeolle worked his way to the first officer position with Capt. Bracewell. With his captain’s license for the past couple of years, he ran M/Y Firefly with Fleet Miami last summer, and M/Y Incentive, a 145-foot Palmer Johnson.

“When I first hired him, his resume said Robert, so I asked what I should call him,” Capt. Bracewell said by phone. “He said, ‘You can call me anything.’ I said, ‘Okay, Swabby’. There are dozens of people who call him Swabby.”

Capt. Rob Fregeolle Dec. 9, 1986 – May 26, 2019 Photo by Dorie Cox

On M/Y Rena, the crew “put a lot of miles on, pretty much the entire coastline of Europe,” according to Capt. Bracewell, who said Capt. Fregeolle was a valuable crew member, both smart and funny.

“He was clever,” Capt. Bracewell said. “The owner of Rena said he was the least opinionated person she had met. He would say ‘that could be so’.”

Capt. Fregeolle bought the motorcycle about 10 years ago and had ridden in the National Marine Suppliers Poker Run last October. Although the family has not suggested a charity for donations, Capt. Bracewell said he and Capt. Fregeolle had a great ride and were supportive of the designated charity for its support of U.S. special operations service members and their families.

“He really liked the Task Force Dagger Foundation,” Capt. Bracewell said. “Maybe that as a donation?”

Capt. Fregeolle is survived by his parents and two sisters. Friends have organized a celebration of life for Thursday at 6 p.m. at Freddy’s Anchor Sports Grill, 2312 S.W. Fourth Ave. (33315).

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below. Please feel free to share photos and memories at dorie@the-triton.com.

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About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Dorie Cox →

5 thoughts on “Friends, bosses remember Capt. Rob Fregeolle

  1. Laureen Burke Pomeroy

    Beautifully written tribute to Robert. Fair winds and following seas, as you set sail for Heaven🙏❤️ Captain Rob.

  2. Shaun

    Always tragic to lose ‘good’ human beings. God bless his soul. My thoughts to his family and real friends.

  3. Sean Noel

    Rob was a great man, yachtsman, and all around good person. I had the honor of working alongside him last year in Washington D.C. while he was under the Firefly command, and he filled in for our tender manager over the 2019 New Year’s. He was always willing, always helpful, and always leading crew in the right direction. I am shocked and saddened by this tragic news. We will be organizing a reciprocal celebration in his honor this Thursday at 6pm in Washington D.C., and anyone in the area is welcome. feel free to contact me via email or phone.

  4. Barbara Tempel

    Outstanding written tribute to a life well lived and accomplished. 🙏🏻

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