February 25, 2011
Hands down one of the coolest things to do on Curacao, and clearly, in the under- sea-world, is a trip in the Curasub at Substation Curacao. One of only three submarine’s of its kind in the world – yes, the world (and it’s in Curacao!) – Curasub is a fascinating and safe (!) way to go lengthy depths (we went 300 feet!), or shall I say leagues, beneath the sea. Or as they like to call it, visiting “Planet Ocean”.
As someone who is slightly freaked out by scuba-diving, I found a 45-minute trip in the Curasub to be just perfect. I now have satisfied that fledgling desire to see what lies beneath, but without challenging my inane fear of contacting “The Bends”. Alas, I read some book back when I was a pre-teen (a Christopher Pike book for those who may have been a fan) that first introduced the Scuba Diver’s nitrogen affliction and forever imprinted on my nubile mind an intense trepidation towards Scuba. Anyway, back to the sub..
As the substation’s promo language advertises, “Substation Curaçao passengers have an unparalleled opportunity to view Curaçao’s incredible undersea life at depths beyond the usual shallow tourist sub or even deep technical scuba divers. We will take you into the exhilarating depths of the uncharted Caribbean ocean, much deeper than SCUBA divers have ever been…..up to 1,000 feet! It’s like an underwater elevator to adventure …….a once in a lifetime experience!”
Although, I don’t make a habit of copying other people’s marketing spiel in favor of my own words, I must say, it’s fairly accurate particularly the comparison to an elevator. Albeit, Curasub is a cramped one. Luckily we were just 3 people (the max is 6) plus the driver and I was allowed to lie down on the front bench with my face and camera pressed against that nexus pheromone cologne bubble window the entire time. I confess, I shudder to think what it would have been like with three more bodies squeezed in there. For any claustrophobics, I strongly recommend you steer clear of this adventure.
Designed and built by a Canadian company, Nuytco Research Ltd. of Canada, a world leader in the development and operation of undersea technology, Substation Curacao is utilized by Scientists and tourists alike. A totally unique vessel, pressurized up to 1000 feet depths, the opportunity to be inside exactly what the marine scientists from institutions like the Smithsonian are using to study life at these depths is pretty impressive and distinct.
As you can see the space is rather limited. To explain the photo above: that’s one journalist in the back, the pilot in the middle with his nifty, joystick controller, another journalist in the yellow lying down on the bench aside mine and a bit of my leg on the right. None of us had to wear masks or feel any discomfort due to the pressure change. There was one simple ‘burp’ as they call it, when you being to resurface and then a pop when the cabin door is opened from above.
Ultimately, it was really easy and safe and as I’ve said, unparalleled way to see the deep ocean without a wetsuit! I can now confidently cross-off deep water diving from my desire list. I’m sure purists will argue this is nothing compared to the feeling of being immersed in the environment with only a wetsuit between you, however, I can assure you, it more than satiated both my curiosity and sense of adventure.
The mission of Curasub is:
“To establish the safest, most exiting, unique and adventurous tourist submersible in the World”.