Although it is the antithesis of Extreme Shallow Snorkeling, this is without a doubt the single most amazing experience of my life. Our trip lasted about 4 1/2 hours and took us 2,000 feet below the ocean, deep into the Cayman Trench and to the depths below where light ever reaches.
Once we found out that Stanley Submarines were operating again after a hiatus to resolve administrative issues, we were eager to investigate. Steve at Coconut Tree Divers had been down and told us about the experience, sharing photos as well. Karl Stanley is the man behind Stanley Submarines, and the designer and builder of the Idabel, a three-man submersible designed for depths up to 3,000 feet. During our lunch break from diving, we headed to the Roatan Institute of Deep Sea Exploration, conveniently located on Half Moon Bay, where we were staying.
On the pier that serves as launching platform for the Idabel, we rang the scuba tank and Karl came out to greet us. We learned we could charter his vehicle, and he would serve as captain. Karl briefed us on the various options, from relatively short excursions to a specialized shark dive that would take up to seven hours. On dives focused on seeing Six-gill Sharks, Karl typically affixes a pig’s head to the submarine, then descends to 2,000 feet to wait in darkness until a Six-gill Shark larger than the sub finds and eats the head. Because we were interested in seeing a variety of life, Karl configured a custom itinerary for us that would take us to the deep sea reefs, the End of the Line, a boat Karl had sunk at 1,400 feet and other nearby areas.