Dan Taylor gets a wee bit perturbed when people suggest he's obsessed with the Loch Ness monster.
To be sure, he spends most days in a sweltering warehouse building a four-man submarine to take to Scotland in search of the creature that supposedly lurks in the lake. He estimates he will sink $1 million into the project by the time he is done.But obsession has nothing to do with it, Taylor says. At 58, he simply wants to finish a job he started almost 30 years ago.
"I was given the job to find Nessie, and I failed," Taylor says. "I'm going back and fix it."
Nessie sightings go back centuries, but it was 1969 when Taylor operated a home-built, one-man yellow submarine during a monster-hunting expedition sponsored by World Book Encyclopedia. There were rumors the Beatles would stop by to get a look at, if not Nessie, at least the yellow submarine (which was yellow so that it would be visible to other vessels, not in tribute to the Beatles tune).
Neither musicians nor monster showed.
"Nessie is pretty elusive," Taylor says. "I thought I got her. Something was laying on the bottom and the wash from it threw my submarine way off course."
Now, Taylor hopes to return to the lake next year. He is building a bigger, faster yellow submarine, dubbed Nessa after the Gallic goddess who gave her name to both the lake and the monster. It will be mounted with a harpoonlike device to poke the creature and get a genetic sample.
The sub will be capable of cruising at 20 knots, or 23 mph, to keep up with Nessie. Taylor clocked what he believes was Nessie at 14 knots in 1969.
Some say Nessie is a dinosaur; others say it is only a myth. Taylor thinks it is some type of eel that by some quirk of nature kept right on growing.
But he confesses: "I don't think people like the eel theory because they're slimy. A dinosaur has more romance to it."