Although the Nemo personal submarine is billed as “the lightest manned submersible ever built,” it’s still typically hefted into the water via a crane on a superyacht. The Beachlauncher offers an easier alternative, in which the sub is simply driven into the sea.
Made by Wisconsin-based company Beachworks, the basic Beachlauncher system has been around for some time now. In a nutshell, it’s a tracked amphibious vehicle that holds a boat on an integrated platform.
Wirelessly controlled by a boat- or shore-located user, the Beachlauncher carries the watercraft down the beach or boat ramp and into the water. Once the boat has moved off the platform and is floating free on the water’s surface, the user sends the Beachlauncher back up to its base on dry land.
Needless to say, the whole process is reversed for getting the boat back out of the water. The Beachlauncher can be wirelessly summoned from a distance of up to 600 feet (183 m).
The new version of the vehicle is designed specifically for use with the Nemo. For readers who are unfamiliar with the latter, it’s a single- or two-passenger submarine made by Dutch company U-Boat Worx. Priced at €590,000 (about US$633,435) for the larger model, it can travel at up to 3 knots (3.45 mph or 5.6 km/h) underwater, is rated to dive down to 100 m (330 ft), and offers up to eight hours of operational autonomy.
Beachworks founder Roger J. Tietz tells us that because both models of the Nemo are relatively heavy (about 5,000 lb/2,268 kg) as compared to surface watercraft, the hydraulic-drive Nemo version of the Beachlauncher is specially equipped with an above-water 38-hp Kohler EFI (electronic fuel injection) gas engine.
That engine runs at 2,800 rpm and has a hydraulic pump on its PTO (power take off) shaft. The pump in turn produces up to 3,000 psi (207 bar) of pressure, pushing vegetable-based hydraulic fluid through a control manifold that turns the vehicle’s two lugged rubber tracks.
And yes, the Nemo does float when it initially leaves the Beachlauncher. As an added bonus, the Beachlauncher automatically seeks the depth required to safely release the watercraft, so there’s no wondering if it’s been driven out far enough.
Like the submersible it’s made to carry, the Nemo version of the Beachlauncher isn’t cheap – pricing starts at US$65,000.