Submersibles for the Megayacht Market

Take a closer look at the submersibles that are making waves in the yacht charter industry.

Submersibles for the Megayacht Market

The five-person, manned submersible that I experienced as part of a charter aboard the sailing yacht Domicil in Curaҫao is an oddity, a $3-million machine being used for a combination of science and tourism. It descends to either 500 or 1,000 feet, depending on a choice of the standard or deep tour. The cost is $650 per person for less than three hours of playing Capt. Nemo with a professional pilot.

Curasub, as she's known at Substation Curaҫao, was built by a man who goes simply by "Dutch." He told me: "When I stopped doing tri-mix diving on my 60th birthday, I decided to keep diving, but now in this." Nuytco Research Ltd. in Canada built his sub, which is Lloyd's GL certified for safety and carries four days' worth of life support in case anything goes wrong (there's a perfect safety record so far). The only age restriction for tourists is based on the size of a person's face, which has to fit inside of a safety mask in case of fire. A big-boned, 8-year-old boy is the youngest to have made the trip at the time of this writing.

What "Dutch" and the owner of Domicil have figured out is that submersible experiences are a natural complement to exploration above-water, like snorkeling or scuba diving on steroids, and with zero training required. You don't even have to get wet. You simply climb inside the submersible and go. This ease of exploration is also why companies like Triton Subs and U-Boat Worx are targeting megayacht owners in their own marketing efforts. As the U-Boat Worx website puts it: "What better way to impress your friends than by taking them into the depths of the ocean onboard your own sub?" (Because sometimes owning your own megayacht is just so ho-hum.)

Triton Subs, at the recent Cannes Boat Show, announced plans for several new models that may appeal to megayacht owners. The company already offers a 3300/3, which is a three-person submersible that can descend to 3,300 feet. The new models will include versions of that sub that can carry four, six and eight people. Want to go deeper? Triton also is promoting a two-passenger version that will dive as deep as 5,500 feet, and a three-person sub rated for 36,000 feet, or “full ocean depth.”

U-Boat Worx offers two types of submersibles. Its C-Questers all come in two- or three-person styles with a maximum depth of about 325 feet. The C-Explorers can carry as many as five people and will dive to nearly 3,200 feet.

Prices for these personal submersibles are on request only — and may not include things like training for whichever crew member will act as the sub’s pilot, tracking equipment that can be wired into the yacht’s helm station, cranes for launch and appropriate stowage space onboard. The professionals at Triton Subs and U-Boat Works can work with yacht owners in the design phase of any megayacht, or can help to retrofit some yachts to make launching and retrieving a sub possible.

Test rides can be hard to come by, but you can get a taste of what's possible with the Curasub experience in Curaҫao. It's available as part of a charter aboard Domicil through Nicholson Yachts Worldwide, or you can e-mail directly at info@substation-curacao.com.