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U Boat Worx: Submarine Experience in Curacao

U Boat Worx: Submarine Experience in Curacao

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What can easily be mistaken for an extraterrestrial spacecraft, the U-Boat Worx submarines depict a promising future for adventures beneath the sea. Founded in 2005 by Dutchman Bert Houtman, UBW set its course to innovate on crafts that had previously been used mostly for research and military purposes. Submarines seemed to only be available to professionals who dedicated much of their life and career to training for it and spending weeks on end below the surface. That all changed when UBW began releasing its futuristic-designed models for yachters and ecotourism-goers. But then the question becomes, how can we get common consumers and vacationers to experience this life below? Well, UBW invested in a fully operational substation located on the pastel blue waters of Curacao.

Our Head of International Business, Connor, had the opportunity to visit UBW’s substation not long ago. Stunned by his positive impression, Connor seems to have fallen in love with a new activity that seems to belong on a bucket list. Conversations with UBW began with its Commercial Director Erik Hasselman who resides at their HQ in the Netherlands. Erik and Connor are organizing a formal partnership between U-Boat Worx and Ocean Builders. Can you guess why that’d be?! Take an OB SeaPod plus a UBW Submarine, and that’s probably one of the closest glimpses into the future of living that is real, and it’s here in this era, we don’t have to wait for more movies teasers of what the year 2050 is going to bring. Now in 2023, we have the opportunity to collaborate on a floating eco-smart home called a Pod, and the world’s first consumer-grade submersible.

The UBW team on-site in Curacao was nothing short of impressive and were all-around great people. Connor says he had the chance to meet with Barbara van Bebber, the General Manager of Charter Operations & Sub Centers. It was Barbara who gave Connor the full experience of touring UBW’s substations (two of them!), receiving the safety and education keynote, and what became the very coolest experience Connor says he ever has had -– taking a ride in the submarines!

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On day one, the pair of ocean tech enthusiasts took to the seas in UBW’s Super Yacht Sub-3 Model. A three-seater model, this unit is an extremely compact private charter sub that UBW offers. Their staff told stories of this particular unit being used on yachts and for ecotourism around the world. Connor was positioned in the front of the sub for maximum viewing, and Barbara positioned in the back with the controls she can be heard making consistent communication checks with her on-land operator Justin.

Connor told us “When I stepped into the sub, it immediately became clear that this was no toy. Outfitted with switches, gauges, control panels, and tanks, the cockpit of the submarine was most comparable to a spacecraft or aircraft. I felt safe, I felt like I was in good hands with their team in control.”

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On day two, Barbara coordinated with Ridder Houtman, Field Operations & Submarine Pilot Instructor, to take Connor on a second dive in their infamous NEMO unit. The NEMO model is their newest model and is certainly the most compact submarine on the market. Starting only at $600K, this submersible is designed and purposed to be a consumer-grade unit. Consumer-grade?!? Is that even possible for a submarine?! Well, maybe before U-Boat Worx it wasn’t, but it most definitely is now. Choose your favorite color, because they can deliver you a personal NEMO unit with that preferred color exterior. On-site they had a yellow exterior and white exterior, both very sleek in design. With the relatively affordable price tag comes its certified pilot training, to ensure the new owner of the NEMO unit will have proper piloting and maintenance experience.

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The dives in both subs took the crew outside of the substation and into the open ocean. Tucked against the reef drop-off, the submarine made its way from the crystal-like waters at five-meters deep, to the deep blue waters at fifty-meters deep, eventually descending to the dim nearly dark waters at over one-hundred-meters deep. It was at the five-meter depths that the crew saw swarms of reef fish, beautiful coral growth, and water that could have been mistaken for a pool. At the fifty-meter depth resided a pair of sunken tug boats that were purposed for an artificial reef. A successful purpose at that, as these tug boats were painted with colors that only Picasso and most abstract artists could recreate. Descended down to over one-hundred-meters (or for our non-metric readers, that’s over three-hundred-feet deep), this is where things got a bit eerie in the best of ways. At one-hundred-meters deep, not much natural light is shining through from the surface, so the crew had to rely on the LEDs outfitted on the sub to light up the path downward.

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Connor went on to say “We got to the ledge of the reef – and I mean this was clearly the ledge, one side it was a barren desert of a seabed without much life, on the other side was darkness descending into what seemed to be endless nothingness. Our pilot set the thrusters downward, and we continued to descend down into the abyss. I was in a movie, it almost didn’t feel real, but it was real and I was having the most unique experience of my life. One of the other cool moments was seeing the other submarine in the water with us. I mean, we were sitting in one of the models navigating around the reef, and then next to us was the other submarine model, and just seeing this brought my excitement for the future of below-the-sea ecotourism and who knows .. travel?? It was like an alternative to The Jetsons: Beneath the Surface”

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The UBW pilot crew was without a doubt qualified for the job because they brought Connor back up to the surface safely without a single error, worry, or nerve being struck the wrong way. It was described by Connor as blissful, magical, and an experience took from the introduction scene to Titanic. Departing with a gift from the UBW team, Connor was given their new Brand Book which includes plenty of images, descriptions, and inspiration to get involved with U-Boat Worx at the first chance you get. This Brand Book now resides on the center table in our SeaPod demo unit so any visitors on the SeaPod can have the chance to see just what magic we’re talking about. The vision for bringing UBW submarines to OB SeaPod communities has begun!

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