"Some years ago I was on a boat one night. We were tied up, at the end of a mirror-calm day. And then the boat was rocked by three big waves. I was sure it must be Nessie swimming past," says Steve Feltham, a self-appointed one-man Nessie-watcher in his 40s. You might expect such a person to be a bit wild-eyed, but Feltham is anything but kooky. He'd been hooked on the Nessie legend as a kid and moved here in 1991 to dedicate himself to his project: "Nessie-Sery Independent Research." But the only apparent evidence of research is a pair of mounted binoculars, which he happily lets visitors peer through while answering their questions. Because most boil down to one—"Have you seen it yet?"—Feltham plans to rename his project: haveyouseenityet.com.
"If the site keeps half of them from asking me that bloody question . . . ," he says, his voice trailing off.
Of his near Nessie encounter, Feltham says: "It wasn't Nessie. I've since learned that it's the aftermath of storms and the shape of the loch that cause those kinds of waves." He pauses. "But I still think there's something out there that's unexplained. I've seen other things and heard about things that I haven't figured out yet. That's why I stay."
Just then a young man and woman saunter up to Feltham's umbrella-shaded table. "Can we ask you a question?" the man says.
"Yes, of course," Feltham replies.
The couple eye him intently; they look worriedly hopeful, like children about to ask their elders if Santa Claus exists. "Have you seen it yet?"
"No," Feltham answers politely, as if this is the first time the question has been posed. "Not yet."
Feltham believes that a large fish—perhaps a catfish—is most likely the cause of many sightings (although he doesn't tell this to the couple). "I don't think they're monsters," he says. "Whatever they are, they're very timid animals; they're more afraid of us than we are of them."