The jet ski might indeed be one of the best watersport toys going round, but it has nothing on the lightweight Nemo submersible from U-Boat Worx, a specialist company in The Netherlands.
Both craft do have one thing in common, however – they can be towed by the family station wagon or SUV, although Nemo would need a vehicle rated to tow at least 2500kg.
That’s how much it weighs, give or take a kilogram or two. Oh yeah, there’s another thing. While a jet ski can be had for between $5000 and $30,000, Nemo will set the budding underwater explorer back around $NZ1.8m.
For the record, Nemo is listed on the company’s website – www.uboatworx.com – at euros 975,000, or $NZ1.772,700 at today’s exchange rate of 55 euro cents to the NZ dollar.
The Nemo is the latest model, one of 20 submersibles the company makes. Each is built around a fully pressurised acrylic hull and powered by battery-powered thrusters delivering a maximum 3 knots underwater.
Nemo is a two-man craft 2800mm long, 2310mm wide and 1550mm high. Its footprint is smaller than two jet skis.
It can cruise at a maximum depth of 100m for up to eight hours and is equipped with wireless communication, flood/spot lights, and fore and aft navigation modes. It runs four 5.5kW thrusters.
Another two-man model in the company catalogue can work at a depth of 3000m for up to 18 hours. It runs six thrusters – four 5.5kW and two 6.4kW – powered by a 62kW/h pressure-tolerant lithium-ion battery pack.
U-Boat Worx uses two universal controllers for the submersibles, Manta and Marlin. Both come with training manuals.
Manta allows for pinpoint manoeuvring by the pilot. Marlin is a wireless remote used from a pilot vessel to navigate the submarine on the surface, for instance to bring it into position above a dive site.
U-Boat Worx was founded in 2005 by Dutch entrepreneur Bert Houtman. It delivers submersibles for exploration, research, and tourism applications.
Each one comes with a DMS mode – Dead Man’s Switch. It will automatically take the submarine to the surface in the event the pilot becomes incapable of controlling it. The pilot needs to acknowledge the DMS every 10 minutes, otherwise it will take control.