Saturday 14 February 2009

a tribute

Dan Scott Taylor was born 19th June 1940, in Memphis, USA and departed this world after complications from surgery on 23rd July 2005.He had a lifetime interest in submarines and other water inventions. Once, at the age of nine he tried, unsuccessfully, to float his bicycle by attaching home made floats!

Dan joined the US Navy when he was 18 years old and became a torpedo man on submarines, participating in the U.S. blockade of Cuba in 1962. He then went on to study submarine design at the Georgia Institute of Technology and later worked building mini-submarines. In the mid-60s, he piloted a submarine searching the Mediterranean for a Hydrogen bomb lost when a B-52 aircraft went down. His interest in building and re-inventing continued throughout his life including building a 90-foot windmill to generate electricity and a 4,000 gallon aquarium. He tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to refurbish a hydro-electric dam. One of Dan’s catchphrases was nothing I make ever works the first time..

Dan decided to build his own submarine. Still working full time, the sub took him over four years to complete. He intended to use it to explore Loch Ness.In 1969, he brought his one-man submersible to Loch Ness. Painted yellow and named viperfish It weighed 5,000 lbs, and was 20 feet long.Dan had to take an umbrella with him as the hatch leaked and on one voyage he couldn’t close the hatch properly. Rather than abandon the dive, he went down until the pressure helped shut the hatch and then pumped the water out. He laughed while others worried for him waiting on the bank of the Loch. A brave man indeed!Dan swore that something had turned the Viperfish around in the Loch. No mean feat as it was so heavy, and he gave chase. Unfortunately, Viperfish only did a maximum of 7 knots (about 8 miles an hour) and he lost it. This made him determined to return with a faster vessel.Dan’s theory was that the Loch Ness creature was a giant eel.

Dan had to retire after suffering a stroke in 1995, which left him blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. With the agreement of his wife, he sold his house to finance building a new submarine.The new sub was to be named Nessa after the Celtic goddess of water.Nessa was 42 feet, 30 tons and went at 22 knots. It was to have a biopsy device fitted to collect a piece of skin from the Loch Ness creature for analysis. Powerful halogen lights and infrared cameras were also going to be fitted as Dan’s first attempts at the Loch had been hampered by the near invisibility of Loch Ness waters, due to the peat particles in the water. Nessa would have seated 4 people and allow them to stay underwater for days. It was, of course, painted yellow. The submersible was 75% completed when Dan passed away. He left it to a fellow enthusiast of his and she further bequeathed it to a marine exploration research group in 2007. They have adapted Nessa and renamed her Dan Scott Taylor 2. Dan would have been proud his sub was being put to such good use.

This blogger knew Dan personally, and can confirm that everyone whoever had contact with him, would agree he was a gentleman. He had unfailing optimism and a sense of humour. She promised Dan that she would meet up with him at Loch Ness, the next trip he made with Nessa. Sadly it was not to be. The world has lost a fine person with a true pioneering spirit.

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