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Sub Sea Systems — Our World is a blog dedicated to the unique experiences of Sub Sea Systems — Immerse yourself in our incredible adventures, company culture, and innovative programs and products.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Fun on the water, safe for the environment!



There’s no question that for most of us, boating is just plain fun. Being out on the water with friends and family can be relaxing, or exhilarating!

Unsurprisingly, several studies have identified dozens of unintentional and unexpected hazards to the environment associated with boating, which might have many reevaluating how they spend their days on the neighborhood lake. Boating can be a real detriment to the health of our waterways, sea life, and surrounding land. Heavily trafficked waterways and the presence of vessels increase the growth of algae. Deposits left from boats can change water chemistry. And, wildlife can be negatively impacted by boat fumes and the chemicals used to clean watercraft.

solarcat solar electric catamaran

But there are options for eco-conscious boaters! Solar power is now being utilized in boating operations. In fact, experts say that the aquatic applications of solar are evolving faster than ever, as people seek a way to enjoy boating without contributing to waterway damage or loss of sea life.

As a company, Sub Sea Systems is always seeking new ways to get people to enjoy the water while respecting the environment. In 2001, we began producing FunCat, an electric catamaran designed for boaters who sought a way to enjoy the water, without the damaging effects of a typical boat. FunCat catamaran owners loved the easy to drive, easy to dock and easy to store FunCat! FunCats also proved to be a great rental product for the boating industry, allowing even inexperienced boaters to steer their way across the water.

In 2018, as demand for eco-friendly options grew, we upgraded the FunCat to include solar panels. The solar panels offered FunCat boaters additional time on the water and a vessel that utilized no gasoline or oil. As interest in a solar boating option grew, we rebranded our popular FunCat as SolarCat Solar-Electric Catamarans. And, this year, we launched a brand new website, solarcatusa.com.

solarcat solar electric catamaran

There’s more to the SolarCat than just its flashy solar panels. SolarCat personal catamarans are designed and constructed in the USA of high quality, long-lasting materials. As easy as ever, SolarCats require no boating experience. Two switches propel the SolarCat forward, backward, left or right, or even a super smooth 360°. Every catamaran includes a sunshade for comfort on the sunniest of days, and plenty of storage for personal items. One of the compartments can even be used as an ice chest, for that just-caught fish or a bottle of champagne! The on-board battery charger ensures you’ll have plenty of juice for a leisurely day on the water. SolarCats are built to last and include a 12-month warranty on parts. And, Sub Sea Systems’ amazing SolarCat team members, Keenan and Greg, are here to help with outstanding product support.

We’re so excited about our amazing, eco-friendly SolarCat that we’re offering an incredible price cut for Black Friday! If you’re in the market for a unique gift, want to avoid the crazy mall crowds, and are looking for the perfect present for your family, you can purchase a brand new, American-made SolarCat catamaran and save a whopping $1000. Check out our deal, starting Friday, November 29th. The special pricing ends on Cyber Monday, so you’ll want to sail on over to our website, www.solarcatusa.com. If you’re in the US, you can purchase securely online! Or, give us a call at 530-626-0100 during normal business hours, and we’ll get a brand new SolarCat on its way to you. You’ll be out on the water in no time!


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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Virtual Reality Goes to New Depths… Underwater!



At Sub Sea Systems, we create immersive and interactive products and programs for the marine tourism industry. From our incredibly popular Sea TREK helmet diving experience, available across the globe, to our newly upgraded SolarCat solar-electric personal catamarans, we’re always looking for fun and creative ways to get people in and under the water.

Our latest product endeavor entails an ever-so-slight submersion (snorkeling) with incredibly detailed virtual reality content. In partnership with Ballast Technologies, Inc., a world leader in aquatic virtual reality, we are releasing three VR snorkeling systems: DIVR, DIVR+ and Deep Dive VR. Welcome to the next level of immersive virtual reality!

VR snorkeling combines the neutral buoyancy of water with the immersion of virtual reality.  The patent-pending technology includes a waterproof virtual reality headset combined with a library of high-quality VR content- from coral reef dives to shark encounters, an Atlantis adventure, and even an out-of-this-world space journey!

virtual reality snorkeling

DIVR

DIVR allows participants to float freely while experiencing neutral buoyancy, audio and 360° virtual content. The DIVR system is portable, and can be used in any shallow swimming pool. Participants wear a floatation belt, VR headset with snorkel, and a secure tether.

DIVR plus virtual reality underwater

DIVR+

The DIVR+ system is a portable snorkeling system with sensory effects. Custom, stationary thrusters emit fluctuating thrusts of water and multiple bubble-induced sensations, which are synchronized with the visual and audio content. Participants feel the tickle of a school of fish or the rushing sensation of water as they zoom through tunnels. In the outer space journey, participants feel the vibration of passing meteors as they approach the space station. The system sets up along a pool edge in minutes, so guests can enjoy the 360° virtual adventure in neutral buoyancy, in no time.

deep dive vr water park virtual reality

Deep Dive VR

Deep Dive VR is a fully self-contained, standalone system. It comes complete with a shallow acrylic pool, 10 VR snorkeling stations, and a back-of-house building with an equipment room, briefing room and top deck lounge. It’s a complete turnkey setup!

Stephen Greenwood, CEO of Ballast shared this about these amazing new products, “Pairing virtual reality with water may not seem like the most obvious match, but once people try it, it's clear just how powerful the combination is. When guests are suspended in water, there is a freedom that allows for absolute immersion, which is impossible to achieve in any other way. Our experiences have already delighted over 400,000 customers.

At Ballast, we've been extremely proud to pioneer this technology and introduce the world to aquatic VR. Our amazing partnership with Sub Sea Systems has enabled us to take our systems to the next level and develop heightened sensory experiences while delivering the best customer service possible. We're grateful to Jim Mayfield and the entire team at Sub Sea Systems for their extensive knowledge of water-based technology, deep industry relationships, and for our shared vision of the future of aquatic attractions.”

Are you ready to jump in? Ballast and Sub Sea are demonstrating the exciting DIVR and DIVR+ systems at IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando, Florida– November 19 -22. Sign up now to try an in-water, virtual reality snorkeling demonstration at booth #8180. Spots are limited!




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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Part 7, Get to Know Sub Sea Staff



Introducing Sub Sea’s newest staff member and Graphic Designer, Myles Thompson. Even though he joined the team recently, he has seamlessly fit right in! Myles jumped into a full workload and has been producing amazing work since day one– including applying his extensive background in videography to shooting and editing promotional videos for our latest products– VR Snorkeling (DIVR+) and SolarCat Solar-Electric Catamarans.


Q: When did you first start working at Sub Sea Systems? 

In August of 2019, 3 days before my birthday.

Myles Thompson Military

Q: What did you do for work, prior to working for SSS?

I worked on a variety of freelance film & graphic design projects.


Q: What was your first project for SSS?

My first project was coming up with a concept rendering of the new DIVR+ system, in use in a swimming pool.



Myles Thompson Family

Q: Tell us about your family

I have a five-year-old daughter, Aria, who is intelligent beyond her years and is the cutest thing on planet earth. My mom, who does interior decorating, is basically a cross between every Hallmark mom and Martha Stewart… in short, she is amazing. My dad is my hero and idol; I joined the military because of how much I look up to him. He’s currently battling Alzheimer’s disease, but still maintains his daily quota of dad jokes.

Myles Thompson and his dad

Q: Where did you go to school? 

I went to The Art Institute of San Francisco.


Q: What do you do for fun?

I enjoy taking long road trips and spending time alone in nature, where I practice my photography. I also really enjoy freediving, when I’m able to.

Myles and Aria

Q: What are you most proud of?

My daughter Aria, of course!


Q: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Anything is possible as long as you’re willing to ignore the naysayers. That includes yourself, sometimes.


Q: What would your co-workers be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t think anything would surprise them, they think I’m pretty weird.


We’re not sure we’d call him weird (although he does do some pretty realistic impressions of Family Guy characters), but Myles is definitely fun, and we’re grateful to have his positive spirit, incredible work ethic and creativity in the SSS office!

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Virtual Reality Snorkeling


DIVR snorkeling

Imagine snorkeling with whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico or humpback whales in Hawaii. Diving a pristine vibrant reef or exploring the international space station. Experiences previously thought to be inaccessible will soon be available, and in only 3 feet of water!

virtual reality underwater

We’re talking about Sub Sea’s latest endeavor, virtual reality snorkeling! This new and exciting experience is actually THREE different products, with three different opportunities to offer virtual reality in an entirely new and unique way: DIVR, DIVR+, and Deep Dive VR.

Virtual Reality snorkeling

The VR snorkeling product line was created in partnership  with Ballast Technology, Inc. out of San Francisco, California. Born from a chance meeting at a trade show, the Sub Sea team joined forces with the Ballast team to develop, market and sell these incredible systems. Ballast Technologies is the leading provider of aquatic virtual reality. They were the first to design and patent an underwater VR headset, and their premium product, VRSlide, was the world’s first virtual reality system for water slides.

So, what are these new and super cool products? Virtual reality snorkeling is digital entertainment, allowing your mind to explore while your body feels the extraordinary full sensory experience of a near-zero gravity environment. Guests feel as if they are actually soaring through the water, as they explore new worlds previously only accessible to scuba divers, deep ocean submersibles, and astronauts.

deep dive vr snorkel

All three systems allow guests to enjoy this incredible experience! The difference is really in the installation. DIVR takes up a very small footprint. All that’s needed is a shallow swimming pool area large enough to accommodate participants in snorkeling positions without touching one another.  During this experience, participants wear a floatation belt, underwater VR headset and a snorkel. A swim tether is attached to an anchor on the bottom of the pool. The video content begins with the tap of an NFC launcher card.

With DIVR+, participants experience multiple, in-water sensory effects in unison with the visual content. Participants hold on to stationary thrusters that produce varying flows of water and air bubbles. Guests feel as if they are actually zooming through the water, corkscrewing through tunnels and feeling the rumbling vibrations of swimming with a pod of dolphins! The stations are designed for setup along the edge of a pool.

deep dive-vr setup

Last but not least, Deep Dive VR takes the stage as a fully self-contained, standalone system. Complete with its own shallow acrylic pool with 10 DIVR+ stations, and “back-of-house” building comprised of a briefing room, equipment room, rooftop seating area and water entry platform.

DIVR, DIVR+ and Deep Dive VR are the world’s premiere virtual reality snorkeling systems. Dive in and add this incredible experience to your operation. Contact us to set up an in-person pool demonstration. We’ll also be exhibiting and demonstrating at the upcoming DEMA and IAAPA Expo trade shows in Orlando.

deep dive video

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Cleaning Up in California’s Gold Country



On Saturday, September 21st, Sub Sea Systems’ staff joined over one million ocean lovers to remove trash from our beloved waterways. Sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, the annual International Coastal Cleanup event focuses on freeing our oceans and coastlines from the global challenges of trash and pollution.

The Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organization, has held cleanups across the globe for over 30 years. More than 100 countries participate in cleanups. The Conservancy provides volunteers more than just a lengthy list of cleanup locations and cleanup kits. It also collects data and reports on cleanup results. Last year, volunteers picked up over 23 million pounds of trash in a single day!

Sub Sea Systems’ team combined forces with the Greater Sierra River Cleanup crew, who removed debris and trash from the Sierra watersheds. 169 volunteers scoured ten different shorelines for three hours. The volunteers covered 11 miles of coastal terrain on foot and recovered 1,500 pounds of trash and recycling, which equates to 3/4th of a 20-yard dumpster. These results will be added to the 10-year totals of nearly 860 tons of trash and recyclables from more than 3,000 miles of river in the Sierras.


While plastic trash accounts for the largest percentage of debris, cigarette butts are the highest singular item collected. In 2017, almost 6 million butts were picked up during the Conservancy’s cleanup. This year, the Sierra crew picked up over 800, with Sub Sea’s team collecting just shy of 400. Additionally, SSS volunteers collected over 100 metal bottle caps and 100 pieces of recyclable paper.

In addition to coastline cleanups, some participants take it a step further. Project Aware works with scuba divers across the globe to protect underwater environments. Project Aware divers span 182 countries and have removed 1,493,381 debris items from 444 miles of underwater habitat.


If you’d like read more about the efforts of the Ocean Conservancy, or if you’re interested in joining next year’s International Coastal Cleanup and fight for trash-free seas, you can “sign up to clean up” at https://oceanconservancy.org/

Sub Sea Systems Crew


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Deep Dive - An In-depth Look


Check Out the Deep Dive VR Video!

Have you ever wanted to swim with whale sharks? Or snorkel a pristine, vibrant reef? Perhaps explore the depths of the ocean, or even deep space?

Sub Sea Systems and its partner, Ballast Technologies, have created a series of underwater virtual reality systems! DIVR, DIVR+ and Deep Dive VR will transport guests visually, physically and emotionally, into undiscovered territories, all while floating in water! Utilizing a snorkel and waterproof VR headset, explorers can glide alongside graceful humpbacks, feel the sensation of tickling tentacles, and experience a rush of water while zooming past sunken shipwrecks... all from within a swimming pool!

headset for deep dive vr

Born from a chance meeting at a trade show, a shared passion for the water, and a mutual drive to introduce new experiences to the industry, Ballast Technologies and Sub Sea Systems have joined forces to create these unique systems. Ballast Technologies is best known for its lightweight VRSlide System, which is utilized at water parks across the world.  Over 270,000 water park enthusiasts have worn Ballast’s VR headset while traversing water slides such as Galaxy Erding in Germany!

Underwater virtual reality is the newest in digital entertainment, allowing one’s mind to explore while the body feels an extraordinary, full-sensory experience of a near-zero gravity environment. When submerged in water, virtual reality becomes even more powerful!  The innovative underwater VR systems transport guests into new worlds via patent-pending hardware and proprietary software technology.

virtual reality underwater mask
Three different Deep Dive experiences are bring created: DIVR, DIVR+ and Deep Dive VR.

DIVR is a portable virtual reality snorkeling system that allows water parks, hotels, and resorts to transform any ordinary pool into a vibrant, exciting attraction, where guests drift through coral reefs, shipwrecks and exotic locations. DIVR requires a small footprint– an area large enough to accommodate participants in snorkeling positions, without making contact with one another. During the experience, participants wear a flotation belt, underwater VR headset and snorkel. A swim tether is attached to an anchor on the bottom of the pool to maintain the guest in position. The video content begins with the tap of an NFC launcher card. In every direction guests turn their heads they see a different view of the virtual world.

DIVR+ is a portable virtual reality snorkeling system with multiple in-water sensor effects. Participants hold onto a thruster that produces water and air bubbles, which create tactile sensations. These elements are queued in perfect unison with the visual content, resulting in an incredibly realistic VR experience. Participants feel as if they are actually zooming through the water, corkscrewing through tunnels, or feeling the rumbling vibrations of swimming with a pod of dolphins. During the experience, participants wear a belt to assist with floatation, underwater VR headset and snorkel. The video content begins with the tap of an NFC launcher card. Almost immediately, the participant begins to feel jets and pulses of water and the tickle of air bubbles across their body as they move through a stunning virtual world. Dramatic visual cues sync with cavitation in the thruster and transmit vibration through the participant’s hands and arms.

deep dive vr pool

Deep Dive VR is a fully self-contained, standalone system comprised of two structural components– a back-of-house building and a stainless steel and acrylic pool, 3 ft (1 m) deep. The pool features 10 individual underwater VR stations with acrylic dividers that provide separation between participants. Participants watch a one-minute orientation video, ascend an outdoor staircase to the launch platform, enter the water via a vertical ladder, and walk to their designated station. During the experience, participants don a floatation belt, underwater VR headset and snorkel. The video content begins with the tap of an NFC launcher card. Like DIVR+, participants feel jets and pulses of water, the tickle of air bubbles, and a rumbling vibration, all synced in unison with the visual content. This incredible virtual world is more real than ever before!

We are excited to exhibit these new products at several upcoming industry trade shows! Sub Sea Systems joins Ballast Technologies at IAAPA’s Expo in Paris from September 17-19th. Our teams will travel to the WWA in Orlando on October 8th and 9th, and again to Orlando for the DEMA show– November 13-16th, and IAAPA– November 19-22nd.  We’re also offering in-water demonstrations at select shows. We hope you’ll come and check out these fun new products, and chat with us about all things VR!

virtual reality at IAAPA

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Cruising to Privacy



Headed for a cruise vacation? If you envision crowded beaches, long wait times, and scheduling hassles, consider a cruise that includes a stop at a private island. Over the past several years, cruise lines have ramped up private island excursions, which allow passengers to enjoy unique attractions, pristine private beaches, and top-notch service that is “just for them”.

Cruise lines’ private islands allow passengers to live the Caribbean dream. They can enjoy perfect white-sand beaches, clear water, colorful fish, coral reefs and lush fauna — and an invitation to have fun all day! Each island has something out of the ordinary to offer cruise passengers. Below are some of the cruise lines’ private destination offerings, and what makes each distinctive.


Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Cay (pronounced “key”), was developed by Disney, so it’s not surprising that it’s all about family fun! Guests can choose from a wide variety of private island activities, including a kids’ 2,400-square-foot water play area, a gaming pavilion, a sports beach, and of course, Disney character greetings! The pristine beach offers sparkling water, an “adults only” area, and boat rentals, including FunCat electric catamarans.

Castaway Cay also offers intriguing snorkeling.  Two submarines from the retired 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at the Magic Kingdom are submerged in the snorkeling area of the Family Beach. You’ll also discover statues of Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse underwater in this area, too!
Fun fact: Some Disney Cast Members actually live on the island year-round!

half moon cay bahamas

Half Moon Cay, Holland America Cruise Line

A slice of heaven, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas is a stunning paradise. Crystal blue water and powdery white sand await guests at this private sanctuary. Take a horseback ride on the beach, quench your thirst at the “I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever” bar, kayak the lagoon, or let someone else drive while you enjoy a leisurely glass-bottom boat tour. There’s even a chapel for weddings and vow renewal ceremonies!

Fun fact: Half Moon Cay has won Porthole Cruise Magazine’s Best Private Island award for 17 consecutive years!

Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line

There’s so much to do at this stop in the Bahamas, that you might have trouble deciding! From peaceful, uncrowded, white sand beaches to heart-pounding parasailing, there’s fun for everyone. Don’t miss the stingray encounter, which garners a five-star rating from TripAdvisor. Guests can enjoy a speedboat ride to Stingray City, then enter the deep water, (an easy step from the large swim platform) and meet these fabulous critters. Even non-swimmers can enjoy the rays!

Fun fact: Great Stirrup Cay was the first cruise line private island, and was acquired way back in the 1970s!!

Princess Cays, Princess & Carnival Cruise Lines

Princess Cays, Princess & Carnival Cruise Lines

Actually, a single island located in the Bahamas, Princess Cays offers everything you’d expect from a private island with an additional layer of exclusivity- private, air-conditioned bungalows! These colorful, adults-only bungalows each feature a ceiling fan, table, and chairs inside, sun loungers outside, and an individual outdoor, open-air shower. The friendly, attentive staff is available to take drink orders.  Guests also enjoy the use of a motorized cart for transportation. When you are ready to take a dip or walk along the shoreline, just walk down the path to the beach. Not into extra privacy? Take a bike adventure along the beach to the rolling hills and see sparkling lagoons framed by mangroves, or hop on a clear-bottom kayak or dune buggy and create your own adventure!

Fun fact: Getting a chair in the shade is never an issue on Princess Cay. There are over 3,000 beach chairs on the island!

harvest cay belize cruise

Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line

It’s all about the location at Harvest Caye! The island is situated in Belize, which is known for its ecotourism. The island’s offerings include some unique experiences, such as exploring Mayan ruins, visiting a spice farm, or exploring incredible, saltwater estuaries teeming with wildlife. Guests can relax on white sands, enjoy exciting ziplining adventures, snorkel the world's second-largest barrier reef, or take an easy ride on a brand new SolarCat solar-electric catamaran!

Fun fact: The 400 staff members working on the island are locals. All the restaurants, amenities and shopping stores are also locally owned.

Labadee Royal Caribbean

Labadee, Royal Caribbean

Coasting takes on a whole new meaning at this tropical locale in Haiti. If you’ve “been there, done that” with ziplining and you’re looking for something different, Labadee offers you Dragon’s Tail Coaster, which reaches 680 feet before whooshing down a hill at 30 MPH. With 360-degree turns, as well as dips, waves, and curves, this thrill ride is sure to keep you entertained. However, if you’re less than “thrilled” at the idea of flying down the side of a steep mountain, don’t worry. You can climb the only icebergs in the Caribbean, or just kick back and relax, with the island’s signature drink— the Labadoozie!

Fun fact: Labadee is actually NOT an island. It’s located on Haiti's northern coast

coco cay royal caribbean

CocoCay, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Want a “Perfect Day at CocoCay”? That might mean conquering the tallest waterslide in North America! CocoCay’s waterpark boasts 13 waterslides. If you prefer your thrills on the dry side, drift “up, up, and away” 450 feet above the ground in CocoCay’s helium balloon. If your interests lie more with relaxation and libations, you won’t be disappointed. CocoCay’s Oasis Lagoon, the Caribbean's largest freshwater pool, has a massive swim-up bar and a beautiful, beachfront infinity pool. When stomach growling commences, there’s a variety of dining venues, which are included at no additional cost. Five dining venues are located throughout the island.

Fun fact: It is not uncommon to see wild chickens roaming the grounds, along with iguanas that sometimes get close to the dining areas to see if any scraps of food rolled away.

Coming Soon: Lighthouse Point, Disney Cruise Line

On the horizon, the newest private island destination– Lighthouse Point! Disney recently announced this development, and revealed that the island experience will celebrate Bahamian folklore, local artists, culture, nature, and of course, special Disney touches.

Disney will also be directly involved in conservation efforts to preserve and protect the island’s natural environment.

Construction at Lighthouse Point has not started yet but will begin after an Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan are reviewed and accepted by the Government of The Bahamas. Stay tuned!


Have you visited a cruise line private island? Share your adventures below. Happy Cruising!
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