06 June 2013
ALMOST A SUBMARINE
Here's a toy to tempt tropical tourists ~ the Ego semi-submarine personal watercraft. Topside, it looks like a fancy raft on floats (see image above, click to enlarge). But note the open deck hatch, with a ladder leading down into .... a two-person observation and control cabin (see images below).
The Ego is something of a hybrid. The manufacturer, Korean-based Raonhaje, calls it a semi-submarine, since it is not built to actually dive. Thus it is simple enough for nearly anyone to operate from the cabin, which rests below the waterline, providing increased stability. The pilot can see underwater (and is aided by an electronic depth sounder) to avoid contacting the sea floor or any obstructions, and can see events above via an LCD monitor attached to a camera topside.
Propulsion is green technology. Rather than fuel-consuming engines, the craft's twin propellers are battery-powered. The Ego can run at a top speed of 5 knots for four hours, or at reduced cruise speed for eight hours. Clearly this is a calm-water, clear-water pleasure craft ~ if it happened to get caught in an ocean current or rip tide of any speed, it could not avoid being swept along.
Given that caveat, the Ego looks like a lot of fun for the leisurely exploration of shallow sea life, coral reefs, or even inspection the hulls of other watercraft. Here is one website's review, and here is a 3-minute video of the Ego and its features.