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Friday, October 30, 2015

Haunted Waters — Ghost Stories to Read on Halloween

Oceans, rivers, lagoons, bayous, lakes and seas hold secrets throughout the millennia of shipwrecks and ghost ships, voodoo curses and ghosts, swamp monsters and kelpies. For a Halloween thrill we have found some of the eeriest apparitions that live on the waters. You might want to keep all the lights on for this read.

We thought it would be fun to find a local ghost story about the famous Lake Tahoe. Sub Sea Systems’ headquarters is in Diamond Springs, California. We are about 1 hour and 20 minutes west of the gorgeous lake. There are legends, folklore and ghost stories from every part of Lake Tahoe. One particular story concerns Emerald Bay.

Captain Dick

Emerald Bay is on the southwestern edge of Lake Tahoe. In 1862 a British sea captain (Richard Barter — AKA Captain Dick) was commissioned to be the caretaker of a newly built 2 story, 5-room resort at the foot of Bald Mountain on Emerald Bay. At that time the harsh winters prevented people from staying in the region year round. Captain Dick was considered somewhat of a hermit because he spent so much time alone caring for the resort. In fact, he was called ‘The Hermit of Emerald Bay.’ The Englishman had to travel 16 miles, in his boat ‘Nancy,’ to Tahoe City to get supplies and visit the Tahoe House Saloon. Captain Dick was a heavy drinker, and was widely known for his wild tales about bears, avalanches and his own prowess.

Captain Dick’s whiskey habit and his fiery personality made him a brave soul. He would venture into any storm to visit the saloon and refill his flask — which he would empty a few times — before heading back across the lake in wind, snow and freezing temperatures. According to Captain Dick’s own account, on one such adventure in 1870, a strong wind overturned ‘Nancy’ (his boat) and threw Captain Dick into the freezing lake. In the subzero water and pitch black night, Captain Dick righted his boat and swam 10 miles towing ‘Nancy’ along behind him, and shouting “Richard Barter NEVER surrenders!!!” When he finally collapsed upon his bed he passed out for days, and upon awakening found his toes had become gangrenous from frostbite. He cut them off himself with a carving knife and preserved them in a special box that he would show visitors. “Them’s my toes!” he would say.

This experience made Captain Dick contemplate his mortality. He decided he wanted to be prepared for his death, and went out to Fannette Island where he carved a tomb into the granite. Above it, he built a wooden chapel with a cross. He would tell anyone who would listen that when he dies he is to be buried on the island in his tomb. It wasn’t too long before he met his untimely death.

On the night of October 18, 1873 Captain Dick had been drinking at his usual pace of way too much at Tom Rowland’s Saloon on the south shore. Tom Rowland’s Saloon was the premier social establishment, so many people saw the Captain, and some even saw his boat headed toward the rocks at Rubicon point. That night a storm struck. Captain Dick always rowed until he passed out and then woke up to finish the trip home. On this night he was not so lucky. They never found his body, but pieces of his beloved boat ‘Nancy’ and one of his oars were recovered. He never made it to his tomb.

On October nights, when a cold fog settles into Emerald Bay, the spirit of Captain Dick can be seen clawing his way up the weathered granite boulders, forever trying to climb into his grave.

Maybe you can see him tonight…

El Caleuche

Off of the coast of Chile there are about 30 islands known as Chiloé. In the waters surrounding the islands the locals know that El Caleuche roams. El Caleuche is a phantom ship. Every night she appears, 15 sails billowing bright, white and blazing with lights and surrounded by a glowing fog. The voices, laughter and music of a massive party ring through the air. As quickly a she is seen, she disappears. El Caleuche has the ability to navigate above and below the surface and she is capable of shape shifting. She knocks fishing boats over, in the way that a whale might, in order to capture fishermen to serve her passengers and crew the ship. The fishermen are mutilated to mark their servitude — their heads twisted backwards and their legs mangled. It is said if the slaves leave, their memories are wiped clean, but their disfigurement remains.

The passengers aboard El Caleuche celebrate a perpetual festival. La Sirena chilota is a beautiful youthful mermaid with long, flowing, blonde hair and golden scales. She is keeper of the fish, and with the help of her brother and sister she carries the drowned bodies of sailors to the ship to revive them and bring them joy by hosting an eternal party. Pincoya is La Sirena chilote’s sister. She is a sea spirit that represents beauty and the abundance of the sea. She is beautiful, sensual and compassionate. Pincoy is their brother. He is half sea lion and half human with golden fur and long blond hair. Together they protect the sea, bringing hardship to any who would do harm.

It is said that Brujo chilote visit the party at times. Travelling through the sea to find the ship by riding caballo marino chilote — horses that have fins for hooves and tail — Brujo chilote are wicked sorcerers that feed on the flesh of human babies and mutilate children into Invunche. They fashion cloaks from the flesh of Christians to gain the ability to fly.

Some stories say that if you see El Caleuche you will be instantly killed. Others say that the crew will bring you on board and take you to the depths of the sea to see glorious treasure and riches. Then they will give you gold in exchange for your promise of never revealing the secrets of El Caleuche. I don’t know which one is true, but if you ever visit Chiloé maybe you will find out.

Isla de las Muñecas

In Mexico, south of Mexico City, there is an island in the Xochimilco canals. It is named Isla de las Muñecas or Island of the Dolls.

A long time ago Don Julian, the caretaker of the island, found a young girl who had drowned in the waters of the canal. He was very saddened by her death. Not too long afterward he found a doll floating in the same area where he had found her little corpse. He picked up the doll, and out of respect for the little girl’s spirit he placed it high in a tree.

Soon, out of the corner of his eye, Don Julian noticed that the doll would sometimes move. Don Julian knew that the girl’s spirit was communicating with him. In an effort to please the spirit, he began to gather dolls from the trash he collected when caring for the island. He would place them, in whatever state he found them, in the trees, on the ground, anywhere he could. He started to trade produce — which he grew on the island — for dolls, and soon dolls filled Isla de las Muñecas. He was not picky about the dolls, and all different kinds decorated the island. Doll heads, broken dolls, doll parts, and dolls with crushed faces grew dirtier and more worn over time.

Don Julian noticed that many of the dolls would move or blink, and he knew that other spirits of other dead little girls had come to the island. He started decorating the dolls and filling his sheds with them. There was no place on the island that did not have wide, painted, plastic eyes peering through the trees. Soon people became interested in the stories, and Don Julian began to offer tours on the island, sharing his tales about the spirits there. People would bring dolls, as offerings, and Don Julian would use the money he collected from the tours to buy even more.

One day Don Julian was found drowned in the canal in the exact same place where he found the little girl. Don Julian no longer takes care of the island, but the dolls remain. They deteriorate and fall apart, growing moss, collecting spider webs and moving and blinking their eyes in the dark.

People still visit the island and bring dolls.

We hope you enjoyed our Halloween stories about haunted waters. Sleep well tonight.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Sub Sea Systems!


Captain Dick

El Caleuche

Isla de las Muñecas

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Sub Sea Systems is Celebrating 30 Years Under the Sea

Sub Sea Systems has been innovating and developing products and programs that allow people to interact with the underwater world since 1985. 2015 marks our 30th year.
In honor of the achievement and in memory of all of the hard work that brought Sub Sea Systems to where it is today, the office staff collaborated to plan a surprise party honoring SSS principal business owners Jim and Melissa Mayfield for all of their dedication and perseverance.

The party was held on October 16th, 2015 (coincidentally Bosses’ Day) at Manzanita Kitchen & Events in Diamond Springs. The venue is a beautiful intimate space with an eclectic style consisting of rustic charm and industrial details. Stained cement floors and exposed steel ductwork meet wood trimmed doorframes and wine barrel accent pieces. Leather couches and dark wood banquet tables allowed for plenty of seating. Simple elegant centerpieces made from glass bowls, sand, seashells, and tea lights twinkled.

A large World map with all of Sub Sea Systems’ locations decorated the back wall above a table that held specially designed gifts for Jim, Melissa, and the employees of Sub Sea Systems. Steel buckets of ice held beer and bottles of wine sat on the bar. Guests were given commemorative 30-year drink koozies in pink, orange, blue or camo. Wild Hog (a favorite local BBQ joint) catered the event. Delicious pulled pork, brisket, green beans and corn bread were presented in chafing dishes. Employees and friends contributed decadent homemade desserts, including blueberry cake, blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream, and caramel apple pies from local Apple Hill.

 Employees and their families, longtime friends and Mayfield family members filled the room. As guests arrived they were directed to write a note and color a portion of a custom poster featuring Sub Sea Systems’ mascots and illustrated sea creatures. Drinks were poured as everyone anxiously awaited the guests of honor.

It was difficult to get Jim and Melissa where they needed to be without ruining the surprise... but, finally they arrived! And everyone was lined up and ready to receive them. The front door opened as Jim and Melissa entered to a joyous cheer with beers and wine glasses raised high —“CHEERS TO 30 YEARS!” The delight and surprise on their faces was priceless. After rounds of hugs and explanations everyone began to dish up the delicious, aromatic food.

While people were eating, a slide show played on a giant projector screen. Images from 1985 to the present showed semi-subs from the beginning to Clear Lounge in 2015. The styles of hair, facial hair, clothing and even company branding have definitely evolved over the years!

As people served themselves dessert the office staff and family members passed out champagne for toasts. A video specially made for the event kicked off the toast/roast. 30 years in 30 seconds (coming soon to our YouTube channel) highlighted great moments in Sub Sea Systems’ history. After the video, staff and family members took turns telling stories and expressing gratitude for being a part of a company that really is a family.

During the roast, we learned that Keenan Mayfield, FunCat Product Director, secretly has implemented ‘Dress like Dad Mondays'. Every Monday morning he learns what his Dad, Jim, is wearing, and then replicates the outfit. Same shirt, same pants and even similar socks and shoes. This has been going on for many weeks and is now a running office joke — and the best part is, Jim has never even noticed! He was overcome with laughter when this was revealed!

Many stories recounted the hard work, trials and triumphs of Sub Sea Systems', its owners and its staff over the past 30 years. The most apparent through all of the praise and teasing was that Jim and Melissa are wonderful people and well loved bosses!

The genius of Sub Sea Systems is in the company’s ability to utilize the unique perspective every person brings to the table. Ideas are valued, creativity is prized, and people are utilized to their strengths. This offers a unique, quality work environment for employees — creating a strong sense of loyalty and commitment among the staff. Appreciation, respect, kindness and care are apparent in Sub Sea Systems' business values, and this is a direct reflection of its owners, Jim and Melissa. They really have created a company family.

The event was a success and I believe Jim and Melissa were able to see themselves through their employees' eyes — even if just for an evening.

Thank you Jim and Melissa — from all of us at Sub Sea Systems.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

The 2015 FCCA Conference

The FCCA Conference and Trade Show is a yearly event that brings together cruise line executives, tour operators, and innovators to analyze industry trends and create relationships. The FCCA is a non-profit trade organization that provides a forum for industry wide discussion about development, direction, and safety in the Floridian, Caribbean, and Latin American waters.

Shown above are Sub Sea Systems President and CEO Jim Mayfield, Director of Marketing Hannah de Bie, Chief Financial Officer Melissa Mayfield, Regional Coordinator Javier Fortunado, General Manager of Clear Lounge Cozumel Julie Ferrera and Regional Technical Specialist Calin Rosado. This year’s event was held in Cozumel, Mexico, from October 5th to October 9th. The objective of attending FCCA is two-fold — not only does Sub Sea Systems introduce its latest innovations and products to cruise line executives, we also meet with our existing operators and offer guidance in continuing development, enhancement, and marketing, as well as presenting them the most up-to-date products that SSS has to offer.

The FCCA convention was very exciting for Sub Sea Systems. Our first Clear Lounge location opened earlier this year at Carnival's Puerta Maya port, located in Cozumel, Mexico. Because the 2015 FCCA event was in Cozumel, we were provided with the opportunity to invite many shoreline excursion executives and supporting staff to actually participate in a Clear Lounge experience. Last year we presented the concept, and this year people had an opportunity to experience what makes Clear Lounge so unique and entertainingEvery reaction was extremely positive.  Mico Cascais — VP of Tour Operations for Carnival Cruise Lines — expressed his appreciation for the system design and efficiency. Within a very small footprint Clear Lounge offers a briefing area, locker storage, showers, a top deck lounge/staging area, the entire experience, and a smoothie bar. Because Clear Lounge is customizable, future Clear Lounge operations will have the ability to utilize the spaces in ways that are organic to their specific locations.

Clear Lounge will be promoted as a "last minute" shore excursion on Carnival Cruise ships visiting Puerta Maya, beginning next week. The experience will also be offered at sales locations on the pier and may be charged to cruiser's on-board accounts. It is expected that Holland America and Princess Cruises will be next in line to offer the Clear Lounge experience.

SSS had excellent meetings with a number of Caribbean Sea TREK operators. Sub Sea Systems is working directly with Sea TREK in Cozumel to reintroduce a newly updated program for the upcoming high season. The new tour is being reimagined and renovated with expanded guest capacity and an extended Sea TREK pathway. Guests will be able to shoot bubble guns at underwater targets and experience underwater dancing. A Mayan pyramid is being installed along with a table and chairs for unique photo opportunities.

Sub Sea Systems is also pleased to announce that our newest Sea TREK location in Curacao is working toward offering its experience to Carnival Cruise Line guests, and other cruise lines in the future. SSS had the pleasure of meeting with a number of potential new locations in the Caribbean that may offer Sea TREK and/or FunCat.

The Cruise industry is the fastest growing category in the leisure travel market. With the European Cruise Lines TUI, AIDA and MSC increasing their visits to Caribbean ports of call, expectations are that it will continue to grow even more. The focus of the FCCA convention was to push innovation. Cruisers and Cruise Ships have choices. Each destination has to compete to stay relevant. The message was clear: enhance, innovate and maintain standards in safety and cleanliness.

Clear Lounge has come at the right time. New business opportunities appear at cruise destinations worldwide as the industry continues to grow. Sub Sea Systems’ innovative technology, standards of excellence, and marketing support are the perfect combination for businesses wishing to increase revenue and lead the way in tourism.

The FCCA Convention and Trade Show was a success. From new tours like The Mayan Cacao Company near Playa Mia to the grand opening of a 3rd pier at Puerta Maya, the event was busy, interesting, informative, and rewarding. We look forward to next year’s event in Puerto Rico.

To learn more about Sub Sea Systems' visionary products please visit our website at
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