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Boating: Down Under

Rick Friese

Trinity Yachts, the New Orleans boatbuilder, plans to deliver a 192-foot expedition yacht to a New Zealand entrepreneur. The owner will cruise on the surface of the sea with his new vessel, but for a change of scenery, he will also travel under the surface in a 24-foot submarine, which can be loaded onto his yacht when it is not in use.

“Exploring by submarine is a very safe, comfortable, and civilized alternative way to explore the ocean,” says Mike Staehle, president of Submersible Systems Technol-ogy, the Riviera Beach, Fla., company that modified and refurbished the businessman’s submarine. “I assure you that if you take your friends or guests on a cruise to the bottom of the ocean, they will be impressed.”

Staehle’s New Zealand customer became interested in submarines when he read an article about a Trinity Yachts expedition vessel that carried a small submarine onboard. Nearly two years ago, the owner and his family took a demonstration ride with Staehle on a submarine off the Florida coast. They went down to 90 feet and cruised along the offshore reef for several miles.

The passengers peered through the windows, marveling at the sights: a sea turtle, lobsters crawling along the ocean floor, exotic reef fish, and a 10-inch angelfish. “It’s an entirely new, fascinating, and beautiful world for most people, with none of the effort and associated risks of scuba diving,” Staehle says. “It’s cruising in perfect comfort through the world’s largest aquarium.”

The businessman and his family were thrilled. He wanted a submarine to explore reefs, ocean bottoms, and sunken ships around the world. However, instead of purchasing a new submarine, he hired Staehle to refurbish a 24-foot vessel (Perry model PC-14) that was originally built in 1978. The submarine, powered by a 48-volt battery, can dive to 600 feet, cruise at nearly 3.5 mph, and carry five people.

With proper training, says Staehle, the owner or his captain will be able to operate the submarine safely. According to Staehle, his New Zealand customer shouldn’t expect too much traffic under the surface. “I don’t think you have to worry about bumping into too many personal submarines as you explore the underwater world,” Staehle says. “The personal submarine is more for the few visionary people who are looking for beautiful new frontiers to explore in the underwater world—and can afford to do it in comfort, safety, and style.”

Submersible Systems Technology, 561.863.6001 or 877.501.6292, www.submarinebuilders.com

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