Splendid history: Miss Wendy took living legend Teddy Tucker, inset, on many trailblazing adventures. *Photo supplied
Splendid history: Miss Wendy took living legend Teddy Tucker, inset, on many trailblazing adventures. *Photo supplied

The days are numbered for Miss Wendy, the 63-foot, 22-ton converted Louisiana shrimping boat that renowned Bermudian diver and scientist Teddy Tucker used as a research and exploration vessel for years.

The boat, which is currently in the government’s custody after the previous owner couldn’t keep up with maintenance and needed repairs, has seen better days. Nowadays it sits engine-less alongside the Hamilton docks. 

Currently, the plans are to sink the vessel, according to multiple government sources. The only questions are where and when. A private consortium has contacted the government about using the vessel as a dive site for future generations to enjoy, but no definitive agreement has been reached.

Tucker, now in his late 80s, is a decorated underwater explorer and diver. He found more than 100 ships around Bermuda, the most famous perhaps being the San Pedro, which contained treasure that included a gold and emerald cross that would become known as ‘The Tucker Cross’.

In the late 1950s, he helped develop the grid system for surveying shipwreck sites. 

In 1983, he was a founding member of the Beebe Project, an initiative that discovered and studied deep-sea animals using submersibles and specially designed cameras.

One project that featured Miss Wendy was in partnership with the Russian research vessel Akademik Mistislav Keldeysh. It involved deep dives off Bermuda’s seamount to research the six-gill shark Tucker discovered. Another project tested Canadian, Japanese, American and Russian equipment for the making of the Canadian IMAX film focusing on the Titanic, called ‘Titanica’. That project involved nightwork with Russian and Canadian scientists.

There were also projects in the Bahamas with National Geographic and ABC Sports, among others.

The vessel, with its large fuel and water tanks, generators for the large lights that were needed for night work and compressors to pump the tanks when offshore, was perfect for Tucker’s projects and voyages, according to his daughter.

It was not, contrary to popular belief, named after her, she says.

“Everybody thinks that. It wasn’t. The manager of the shipyard that built it — it was his granddaughter’s name.”

Wendy says her father bought the vessel in the early 1980s. He sold it in 2008 in part because it’s a large boat that requires a lot of upkeep and “he can’t do projects like he used to”. She believes it has “changed hands” more than once since 2008.

The boat came to be in the government’s custody during the last hurricane season, when boats were being moved out of Morgan’s Point, where it was being kept. The Department of Works and Engineering were requiring boats to be moved out of the area because of nearby development, said Harbourmaster David Simmons. 

Engine removed

Mr Simmons said the owner, whom he declined to name, did not know what to do with the boat, which needed significant work. Authorities then made a deal where they would take custody of it in exchange for the boat’s engine, which they could use in a government vessel. 

“The days are numbered, it’s just a matter of finding a resting place,” Mr Simmons said. 

The process to sink a boat, however, can be an onerous one, according to Mr Simmons. The boat needs to meet specific environmental standards. If it’s going to be used as a dive site, the boat has to be cleared of anything that could potentially snag or compromise divers, he said.

“It’s a headache to get rid of the boat,” he said. “We would much prefer some private individual to take it on themselves and clean it up and use it as a dive site.”