It has been over a decade since I last climbed aboard a submarine; a time when my three children were still relatively young (Liam was 13, Carl was 11 and Hayley was only 9 years old) and so for them this was going to be the adventure of a lifetime! When I was a teenager I remember being enthralled by a television series called ‘Voyage to the bottom of the sea’, a science-fiction serial about the crew of a submarine that came up-against all kinds of sea-monsters, including giant squids -the size of King Kong! Since then all kinds of creatures have been discovered in the depths of the ocean -including giant squids that can grow up to 46ft in length (including their tentacles) which is something I would not like to come face-to-face with on one of my scuba-diving expeditions -and so I guess you could say that I was a little apprehensive -as well as being extremely excited, about my first-ever submarine experience. To my pleasant surprise all went swimmingly (pardon the pun) well -and all four of us enjoyed watching great shoals of multi-coloued fish swimming aimlessly all around us, while huge stingray fish went gliding past our port-holes with the greatest of ease -amazing.
Then all hell broke loose, as sirens started screaming through the cabin -and red lights began flashing all around us, as the captain continued bellowing orders to his crew over the tannoy system -though lord-know what he was saying, as it was in some kind of foreign language -though lord-knows what! Then all went silent, and everything was back to normal, as the captain announced ‘in English’ that we had just been given a taste of ’emergency procedures’ on board a submarine, as part of our undersea experience! I (along with several of the passengers) only wished that he had warned us beforehand! Since then things have moved on -and in 2007 a company called ‘Submarine Safaris SL’ came to the island, armed with a vessel which had been specifically built for the submarine tourist industry. Costing over €3 million, it has been built to the highest standards, including a spacious cabin, which maintains normal atmospheric conditions, in order that people with ear problems, or heart patients -or even pregnant women, will not be affected in any way and can enjoy the trip in total comfort and complete safety. Since beginning their operations in Lanzarote in 1997 ‘Submarine Safaris SL’ have undertaken around 30,000 dives, carrying a total of almost one million passengers to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
The submarines, which are 18.5 metres long, 4 metres wide and 6.5 metres high, were built in Finland and can carry a maximum of 48 passengers, along with the crew-members on each dive. There are ’22’ 800 mm view-ports -11 on each side of the sub, and each view-port has its own TV monitor, allowing alternative viewing angles, along with a digital display panel giving continuous information about the submarine. There are also two 1,600 mm view-ports -one at each end of the submarine, and the total weight of the vessel is 106 tons. The maximum operating depth is 60 metres (around 200 feet) although the sub normally goes down to about half this depth on the normal excursion -which lasts for approximately one hour. Every dive has a tour guide, who will give a comprehensive explanation regarding the dive and the submarine operations. At the end of the dive each guest is given his / her own personalised ‘Diving Certificate’ -just to prove to their friends and family back home that they have completed one of the greatest underwater adventures on the planet -period!