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Boatbuilder ready to mark 40th anniversary

Forty years ago Herbie Adderley and his friend Donald Morris embarked upon an ambitious marine project.

For 15 months they worked tirelessly with the help of family and friends to build the 68ft Reef Explorer from a new and untried material called airex.

Next week will mark the boat's 40th birthday, and despite the passing of the decades the glass-bottom vessel is still going strong and continues to take thousands of tourists out to sea every year.

“It gives me a lot of pleasure to see it still in the water and working well after 40 years,” Mr Adderley said. “Back then the Bermuda Government had no confidence in the material or what we were doing up there.

“They did not buy our boats as ferries at the time, but since then they have bought their third set of ferries.

Reef Explorer is still going strong and will still be going strong when the current ferries are replaced.”

Mr Adderley and Mr Morris started work on the Reef Explorer in Dockyard in November 1974.

On February 22, 1975 the vessel was launched and began taking tourists out to witness the spectacle of the island's reef system.

In May 2005, skipper Michael Gladwin bought the boat and has continued to use it as a tourist attraction ever since. He also ensured the boat underwent a major refurbishment.

“This boat has been a part of my life for over 30 years now,” he said. “It is really the only job I have known.”

“I left school at 18 and by 20 I was working on the boat for Bermuda Island Cruises and it was my uncle Donald Morris that first built it with Herbie.

'Over the years we have improved the vessel in a number of ways to keep up with the times and make her more accessible. It's been a fun ride and I look forward to it continuing.”

Mr Adderley added: “What Michael has done with the boat has been fantastic.

“It looks very difficult from the way it used to. Looking back now the Reef Explorer was really the beginning of my business, Adderley Fibre Glass Boats.

“Since we built that one, we expanded to employ 15 workers and build 26 boats, two of them being the 80ft vessels we built for Kitson and Company.

“We are all very proud to see Reef Explorer at sea 40 years after she was built.”

Still going strong: the 'Reef Explorer' will have been in the water for 40 years next week (File photograph)

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Published February 19, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 19, 2016 at 6:20 am)

Boatbuilder ready to mark 40th anniversary

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