About Loch Ness

In Search of Eioch Uisge

by George Edwards

I was awakened by the sound of the telephone next to my bed, I checked my watch, it was 6.15 am, who could be calling me at this unearthly hour. As I reached for the telephone I wondered who it could be, my wife Lenora had gone to Durham to visit her parents and had phoned the previous evening to let me know that everything was fine, her father had had a heart operation the previous summer but had made a good recovery.

My son Tim was at university in Dundee, and despite us giving him a BT charge card seems to view telephones as if they were spitting cobras, it couldn’t be him, my daughter Corry was asleep in the room next door, I had heard her coming in earlier after one of the numerous all night parties that teenagers seem to attend, so it could not be her, calling to let me know (once again) that she had forgotten her door key and “could I come down and let me in”, who could it be at this unearthly hour!

Good evening, this is the New York Times, is that George Edwards, the Chief Loch Ness Coastguard Officer, we believe you have found a cave at the bottom of Loch Ness, that is the home of “Nessie”, can you tell us about”, and so it began, little did I know that for the next month, 24 hours a day, such calls would be the norm, rather than the exception.

This story begins back on 30th November 1989 whilst a friend of mine, Ian Jack, the former mechanic on the Aberdeen Lifeboat, and myself were taking part in a coastguard exercise on Loch Ness. The scenario for the exercise had been planned by Mike Armitage the section officer for HM Coastguards, Inverness area, which includes Loch Ness. The scenario was that a passenger vessel and a fishing vessel had collided on Loch Ness, resulting in a fire in the engine room of the passenger boat, the fishing vessel sinking, with some of its crew taking to a life raft and approximately six other persons from the fishing vessel and passenger boat missing.
The exercise involved all the main emergency services and most the other vessels which operate on Loch Ness, including the cruise boat “Nessie Hunter”, of which I am the skipper.

The exercise was due to begin at 12 noon when a “distress” signal would be sent out by the passenger vessel, whereupon all the emergency services and other vessels involved would spring into action. My remit was to be in the position, that I would normally be, with Nessie Hunter at that time of day, which in my case would be in the vicinity of Urquhart Castle. Unfortunately, as with the best laid plans of mice and men, things did not go according to plan, a real situation had developed in the North Sea, and the R.A.F Sea King helicopter, which was to take part in the exercise, was called away, and I was instructed to maintain a holding pattern in the Urquhart Castle area, and await further instructions.

It was a lovely autumn morning, barely a ripple on the lochs surface, and we began a holding pattern involving figure of eight's and decreasing and increasing circles, whilst monitoring the VHF radio. We had settled down and were having coffee and sandwiches when I happened to look at the sonar screen, and much to my surprise, I noticed a depth reading of 787 feet, about 37 feet more than I had previously recorded in this area! I pointed this out to Ian and immediately all thoughts of the chocolate biscuits which we were to have with our lunch were forgotten and we began to further investigate this area of Loch Ness which is now known as “Edwards Deep”. We began to retrace our route and take compass bearings, at this time Nessie Hunter did not have GPS, and eventually we recorded a depth of 812 feet, the greatest known depth ever recorded in Loch Ness! In the 1960’s a mini-submarine supposedly recorded a depth of 975 feet, but to my knowledge, no evidence to support this claim, has ever been presented, I have the picture to support my claim, and since 1989 my findings have been verified by several other vessels. Shortly after my discovery the exercise began and our attention was diverted to the business in hand.

At the beginning of February ‘97 a friend of mine, Gary Campbell, was browsing through some old copies of the Inverness Courier when he came upon an article about my discovery in Loch Ness and was amazed that it had not been more widely reported, especially as at that time it was described as “the most significant discovery ever made in Loch Ness, and merited more investigation”.

Gary telephoned and asked me if I had ever thought of pursuing the matter, but I explained to him, that being a local, I have lived in the Loch Ness vicinity for 36 years, our views and opinions about Loch Ness are generally ignored, or treated by the world media as the ravings of drunken highlanders. It would appear that you have to be a “foreign expert” or “quasi-scientist” before your opinions or findings are sought by the media. His reaction was that he would like to rectify this, in view of the fact that despite numerous so-called expeditions over the past 30 years we were still no closer to proving or disproving the existence of “Nessie” and asked my permission to relate what I had told him to a journalist friend of his. I saw no harm in this and gave Gary my permission to tell his friend, and so it all begun!

Within hours of Gary talking to his friend the story went “down the wire”, and from that day onwards the world and his brother want to talk to me about “Nessie's Cave” or “Nessie's Den”. Let me state quite categorically here and now, that at no time have I ever described my discovery as anything other than an anomaly on the bottom of Loch Ness and that I am not the Chief Loch Ness Coastguard Officer, I am merely the skipper of Loch Ness Cruises passenger boat, the Nessie Hunter, who also happens to be a voluntary auxiliary coastguard.

Over the next few days the story began to appear in the world's press, and radio and television stations world-wide expressed a desire to interview me. I was delighted to hear that a major German owned North Sea Oil Company had volunteered to provide deep sea equipment to investigate the anomaly, however, what they did not say was that we would have to provide a support vessel to carry all the equipment at an estimated cost of 55,000, needless to say I am not in a position to finance such an expedition. After the story of this apparently generous gesture by the Oil Company appeared in the Aberdeen Press & Journal one or two other companies expressed an interest in sponsoring an expedition, but to date no firm financial commitments have been forthcoming.

For the record I would also like to state that despite giving hundreds of press, radio and television interviews, I have never capitalised on my discovery, to date I have received a grand total of 30.05 (approx. $50) from BBC Scotland, for a radio interview in Inverness, however, I am still as intrigued as everyone else about my discovery and hopefully someday, someone will come along with genuine intentions to investigate the anomaly that is “Edwards Deep”

George Edwards Sonar screen of Edward's Deep

Sonar of Edward's Deep

© Copyright - George Edwards 1998

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