Karl is one of the most innovative and successful homebuilt submarine enthusiasts I know. He began his CBUG (Controlled Buoyancy Underwater Glider) as a teenager in High School; completed it while in College; and then took it to Roatan Honduras where he operated it carrying passengers on more than 500 dives to depths in excess of 750 feet. That’s phenomenal for a guy who pretty much taught himself what he needed to know, and then built his boat single-handedly in his own backyard. In fact, I can’t think of anyone else who’s come close to that level of accomplishment. Karl’s presently building an even bigger submarine that I hope to feature here some day. Meanwhile, please enjoy these pictures of Karl operating the CBUG on a typical tourist dive in Honduras a few years ago.
Most backyard subbers I know have pictures like this one. This is a very young Karl Stanley astride the basic tube that would become the CBUG pressure hull. This is the part of the project where most everyone thinks you’re crazy; that you’re sub can’t possibly work, and that what you’re doing is a big waste of time and money. Karl sure proved them wrong.
Here’s an in-process look at the CBUG pressure hull with the ballast tanks and air bottle carriers in place. The sub is being built on a trailer, which makes good sense as it will facilitate movement during construction and launch when the boat’s finally finished.
In this view, CBUG seems to be getting a coat of bright yellow paint. Yellow is a sensible shade for a small homebuilt, as it ensures visibility more than any other color one might choose.
Here, Karl is launching the finished CBUG at a dive resort in Honduras as a passenger stands by for the ride of his life. Notice the dive boat in the background, and the International VentureCraft SPORTSUB on the dock. (You can access the IVC SPORTSUB website via our LINKS page.)
Karl aboard the towboat as the CBUG is ferried out to the dive site.
In this view we see the passenger entering the main hatch prior to sliding aft to his compartment, while KARL stands casually on deck. Notice the extreme stability and excellent freeboard the CBUG possesses: important characteristics for a seaworthy vessel.
CBUG begins a dive. The amazing thing about this sub is that it can operate without motors. By varying ballast to adjust C/G, the sub can pitch down at a radical angle, dive, and then “swoop” to travel horizontally: a true underwater glider.
I created this dramatic underwater view of the CBUG diving from a still I captured off video. To the uninitiated, this attitude might look a little unusual, but rest assured it is all quite normal for a craft of this type, and the boat is operating under control.
The speed gained in the downward dive is translated into horizontal movement, and off you go! Actually, because Karl was operating next to an underwater sea wall in Honduras, he added two electric motors for close-in small course corrections and fine maneuvering adjustments. But the boat is capable of operating without them, and did so on many dives prior to this.
Here’s a fish’s view of one very happy sub pilot. Put yourself in Karl’s place, and you’d be smiling too!
Here’s an interior view showing some of CBUG’s instruments and controls.
Cruising along next to a sea wall.
A passenger gazes out at the underwater world. The look on his face calls to mind that statement made by Captain Nemo in Disney’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: “Wonders, that defy my powers of description…..”
With its headlamp on to light the way, CBUG descends to 100 fathoms and beyond: truly a remarkable accomplishment for a homebuilt submarine. Well done, Karl!
UPDATE: In late 2009, I learned that Karl has retired the CBUG, and is now focused on operating his deep diving submersible IDABEL in Honduras. For a time, the retired CBUG was on display, but eventually it was sent to its “last deep resting place” at the bottom of the sea. Here’s a view of the submarine as it looks today.
NEWER!!! Thursday, April 12, 2012. Here’s another look at Karl’s first sub, C-BUG, in its “last, deep resting place.” Hardly “rusting in peace”, though. Karl tells me it’s a popular snorkeling site, and home to a local Moray. Looks like this view is through the bubble on Karl’s newest deep-diver, IDABEL.
Karl Stanley operates the Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration (RIDE), located in Half Moon Bay, West End, Roatan, Honduras. (Tropical paradise on the edge of a deep ocean trench.) RIDE offers personalized submarine excursions to very deep water. For more information, Google Karl Stanley submarines (I say that because there’s a lot of info out there) or contact Karl directly via his website.
Images © Copyright 2012, Karl Stanley; Pat Regan, “All rights reserved.”