"So just climb in there, Bill," Marc Deppe of Triton Subs told me. "Yup. Yup. That's right. Operating this sub is about as intuitive as breathing."
After a second or two, there I was, seated at the helm of the Triton sub simulator in Vero Beach. With the surface of some computer-generated water dead ahead at about eye-level. And a few computer-generated fish cruising past. And then a shark. Yikes! A hammerhead!
"Sorta like a shiphandling simulator," I remarked to Deppe with growing enthusiasm.
"Remember," he cautioned as I began slowly drifting downwards. "When you blow the tanks to come up do it gradually, for safety's sake. You don't want to ram another vessel from underneath or come up too violently. Do you see that wreck dead ahead? Why don't you head over in that direction. See what you can see."
Driving was indeed pretty intuitive. And enjoyable. And the little stick-time I was able to get on the simulator is presumably going to stand me in good stead while I do a dive with Triton, over in the Bahamas about mid-November, onboard their new Triton 3300/3, shown below.
The 3300/3 (capable of diving to roughly 3,300 feet with two passengers and a pilot onboard) will debut at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show in a couple of weeks. As shown it's not quite ready for prime-time, but will be for the show and, of course, the extravaganza in the Bahamas.
By all reports, the megayacht we'll be using to launch and retrieve the sub over there will be fairly crowded, what with folks from the BBC onboard (doing a TV show), as well as others from both the Discovery Channel (also doing a TV show) and the American Bureau of Shipping (doing certification dives), to say nothing of "a couple of billionaires" who are each planning on a couple of pre-purchase ride-alongs.
Personal subs--and the personal exploration of the ocean's most remote regions they facilitate--are all the rage among megayachters these days, apparently. In fact, Triton's working on a model--the 36000/3 F.O.D. (Full Ocean Depth)--that will perhaps soon visit the deepest spot in the ocean. Check out the story in an upcoming issue of PMY.