GO DEEP

By on September 28, 2012 in Adventure

Earth’s Final Frontier

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. – Jacques Cousteau

The final frontier of adventure may be space travel, but we have at least one frontier right here on Earth where relatively few people have ever ventured: the sea.

Though it may sound obvious to those who have donned a wet suit and oxygen tank, the sea is another world on our very own planet, teeming with aquatic life and natural treasures that would blow our minds, if only we could see them in person.  It’s interesting that over the last many decades, numerous countries have spent billions of dollars launching countless manned missions into space, yet exotic and fascinating parts of our oceans have remained largely unexplored.  However, there has undeniably been a resurgence of interest in our great bodies of water and all that they have to offer the seeker of adventure.

Recently, filmmaker and explorer James Cameron made history with a solo dive in a personal submersible to the world’s deepest ocean point: the Mariana Trench.  Located off of Guam, Cameron reached a depth of 35,800 feet and in the process, ignited the imaginations of a lot of individuals who now want to take a ride underwater.  They’re in luck considering that it used to be that submersible watercrafts were only available to the military and advanced scientific community.  These days, anyone with the means – there are low cost do-it-yourself kits, “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” models, and everything in between – can own their own personal submarine and experience an adventure that few people alive today ever have.

In fact, personal submersibles have become so popular that they are starting to replace boats and planes as the ultimate escape vehicle.

Ultimate Escape

The Earth is made up of 70 percent ocean, which means for any adventurer who has ever gotten to a point where they say to themselves, “I’ve seen and done it all,” the truth is they haven’t.

Personal submarines actually first came along in the 1970’s when a man named Graham Hawkes designed a mini submarine for scientific exploration.  However, it didn’t take long before the jet set crowd realized that a submarine would be a pretty cool addition to their yacht configuration.  After all, if their yachts could already carry speedboats and helicopters, why not a sub?  With this market in mind, submersible manufacturers primarily focused on building vehicles that could launch from the rear of the yacht, though there are also submarines small enough that launch from a trailer.  These days, it is estimated that there are tens-of-thousands of personal submarines all over the world, though nobody knows the exact number for sure since the coast guards of most nations consider them to simply be boats.  These vehicles provide their owners entrée into unexplored, underwater worlds, and in most places, they don’t even need a license to operate them.

With the growing demand for personal submarines, manufacturers are implementing the latest technologies and imaginative designs to keep their products on the leading edge.

Leading Edge Vehicles

The last couple of years have seen a rash of personal submarines hit the market and many of them are undeniably impressive.

The EGO is a personal submarine designed by South Korean manufacturer Raohaje.  It features a highly unique design that allows it to double as a personal island, and just like a car, it has and accelerator and steering wheel.  The EGO has three giant windows that form the bubble you and your guest sit in.  The windows are made from a special acrylic that is 200 millimeters thick and 200x stronger than glass.  The EGO runs on an electric battery that can hold up to 10 hours of power and the vehicle even comes in seven different colors.

Taking submarine design to an entirely new level is the Killer Whale Submarine by Hammacher Schlemmer.  Streamlined like the Orcinus orca after which it is modeled, this two-person watercraft features working pectoral fins with control levers and a 255-horsepower supercharged Rotax engine that allows you to reach speeds of 25mph underwater and 50mph on the surface.  With the ability to leap out of and plunge in to the water, you are held firmly in place in the cockpit with a racing harness and you get a live video feed of all the action from a camera attached to the dorsal fin.  The cockpit’s dashboard includes a speedometer, tachometer, engine, and air pressure gauges, which are pretty much all you will need to live out your Jules Verne-esque fantasies.

Stoking the Imagination

When Jacques Cousteau said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever,” he knew exactly what he was talking about.

This ocean pioneer was keenly aware that one of the greatest adventures to be had on this planet was beneath its waters.  For once you have seen what the ocean has to offer, your perception of the world will be changed forever.  While it will take several decades for personal submarines to be widely used by the masses, once it does, the ocean will be a final frontier we can all experience and share.

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