Real-life tale of underwater treasure hunter
A Bermudian writer has penned a novel based on the real-life exploits of underwater treasure hunter Teddy Tucker.
Andrew Outerbridge’s book, The Vigilant, centres on the discovery of the wreck of a privateer’s ship loaded with riches and Robert Tucker, 16, who finds summer work with veteran diver Harold Tumbridge in the 1960s — and their battle against modern-day pirates intent on depriving them of their find.
Mr Outerbridge said: “As they often say, many a truth is told in fiction and there is no doubt this novel draws heavily off of local folklore, legendary characters and the nuances of island life.
“It offers a glimpse into a time that many never knew and others have forgotten.
“Characters like treasure diver Harold Tumbridge take on a fictionalised version of the spirit of notable Bermudians like Teddy Tucker and Harry Cox and are melded with other notable Bermudians like Harold Gibbons and my father, Yeaton Outerbridge.
“All iconic Bermudians known for their endearing and legendary personalities.”
“The Vigilant weaves a tale of deception and conspiring local and international interests, all trying to undo the rightful finder.
“It is a story that speaks for the small guy, poetic justice and the lessons of life as they unfold through the eyes of the young protagonist.”
Mr Outerbridge said he was a neighbour of Teddy Tucker as a child and called him Uncle Teddy. Mr Tucker died in 2014, aged 89.
Mr Outerbridge said: “My main character has a great deal of his spirit. He was a little mischievous by nature and loved to laugh. He always had a story.”
He added he had incorporated some real-life tales about Mr Tucker in the book, including a practical joke played on Wendy Benchley, wife of friend and author Peter Benchley, a regular visitor to Bermuda and creator of the bestseller Jaws, later a smash-hit movie.
Mr Outerbridge said: “Wendy kept bugging Teddy about finding gold after weeks on a dive site so Teddy bought a bunch of gold chocolate coins.
“He covertly put them in a place on the wreck site so Wendy would find them.
“As they casually swam past the spot, bubbles erupted from her regulator in excitement.
“She grabbled all the coins and put them in her dive bag as they swam excitedly to the surface.
“As she poured them on the dive platform. Teddy grabbed one, examined it carefully then peeled back the foil and popped it in his mouth saying ‘Tasty little fellows’, with a loud blustery laugh.
“She was crushed. That was a typical Teddy move.”
The novel, named after the treasure ship at its heart, has been backed by Hollywood star Michael Douglas, whose actress mother, Diana Dill, was Bermudian, and British historian Saul Kelly, a PhD tutor at King’s College, London.
Dr Kelly said the book was “an experiential and gripping must-read”.
The book, part coming-of-age story and part adventure, will be launched by Mr Outerbridge at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on East Broadway on November 29, starting at 7pm.
Mr Outerbridge said: “My talk will cover the story behind the story and I think it will appeal to almost anybody with an inquisitive mind or wondering about the writing process and what it means to this author.”
The book will be available in hardcover from Brown & Co and the Bermuda Book Store from November 30 and an audio version recorded by Mr Outerbridge — complete with “real Bermudian accents” — will also be available.
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