A bike for Snorkeling?
“The morning sun sparkled on the waves. The water tightly flowed round our bodies. The corals sweeping beneath us were a riot of colour. My wife, our two teenage children and I were swimming to get exotic fish for our dinner. While our kids were exchanging jokes on the first radio channel, I checked when we reach hunting area. The navigator on my wrist showed another one and a half kilometer to go, and we had to swim seven minutes more at our speed. The water jets were 87% charged after we had covered three kilometers in 15 minutes. We had plenty of time for hunting. Switching to the radio-frequency of the hotel, I warned that we would return an hour later and wanted to rent a stove in the kitchen of the restaurant for cooking our catch. On the right, at a small depth, a flock of golden fish emerged from the crevice. I looked through the periscope built into the mask’s tube — no menace was seen on the water surface. But only within a hundred meters, foamy waves appeared near the top of another reef protruding from the water. Going back to our frequency, I turned to my wife — “honey, why don’t we send a message to our parents, while we are not busy hunting. Look, what a glorious view — corals, reefs, a sparkling cloud of small fish nearby.” “Okay, dear, will you take a picture of our kids and me in front of the fish,” she replied, and turning off the water jets, reduced the buoyancy of the belt to take a vertical position in the water. “Kids, swim here, let’s send holiday greetings to the grandparents” — my wife called the children on the radio. When everybody comfortably hovered under the surface of the water, keeping only the tubes above it, I opened the messenger on the phone, the connection with the satellite was stable. I checked whether the masks of my family were flashing, and whether the faces were visible through them — everyone was smiling. I took away all the underwater spears — our older relatives did not approve our passion for underwater hunting at high speeds. Having finished the preparations, I opened the messenger on the phone, chose our radio channel as the source of the sound, and clicked on the video. My wife hugging the children, gently, but joking and showing surrounding beauties began her video message. Having finished the recording, I sent the message with the attached record, gave back the underwater spears, and we continued on our way. Soon we were to have a half-hour chase for our future dinner in the bay of a rocky deserted island, which was indicated on our navigators by a local guide. The fish arrives here to warm up when the water in the bay heats up. But at the same time it becomes less active, and the underwater speed of our water jets which is 10–20 km/h is enough for non-straining hunting race. Moreover, the depth of the bay does not exceed 20 meters. The Spare Air for underwater breathing through the air pressure valves of our masks, which we took with us, will give us 5–7 minutes of bottom time for the each hunting race.”
The story above looks like science fiction from a pleasant future. Especially considering that people described here don’t have diving suits, and they are more like snorkelers with additional equipment. But is this a fantastic story? The development of modern technologies has already made it possible to turn this fantasy into reality. It’s just necessary to put together and slightly improve the existing equipment. Water jets are already available, the Company Patriot3 has a product P3M. Although they are cumbersome, have a problem with design
of storage batteries and are intended exclusively for divers (it seems dangerous for a beginner to use them without a diving suit), they were successful in operational tests. Compact towers in the shape of a tube, with an adequate choice of storage batteries are also available. For example, the universal towers of the Company Scubajet. Full-face masks, in which you can say words, are available. Starting from the expensive and technological Aria from Ocean Reef, and ending with anonymous rough Chinese full-face masks for a few dollars. There are a lot of belts and other wearables for water, with adjustable buoyancy, though usually with manual adjustment. For instance, jackets for BCD divers, this is an excellent example of the development of technology to change buoyancy. Although they are not intended for high-speed movement in water. There are quite a lot of phones that can shoot underwater nowadays. But they do not get any service, they do not see satellites and cannot use the Internet under water. There are also many waterproof consumer radios. But they work either in the air radio-frequency environment, or underwater (depending on the environment of use for which they are made). There is no point in listing the examples of a variety of periscopes or cameras that show an image from the camera angles over a person — there are a lot of them. The history of such devices has more than one hundred years. The only thing we need to do is to bring everything together for the swimmer, who spends most of his time in the upper layer of water near the surface. In other words, for a snorkeling.
The main point of these technical efforts is a new degree of freedom for a person. The bicycle has expanded the habitat of man for several tens of kilometers. The car did it for several hundreds of kilometers. Aircraft and ships — for thousands of kilometers. But all this concerns the movement in air, though basing upon different surfaces/environments as a fulcrum. However, everything concerning the movement of people immersed in the water, remains almost at the level of most animals which are not adapted for swimming by nature. Of course you can argue that there is diving and submarines. Is this the only way for the bulk of the world’s population? Diving is a specific kind of activity that requires planning of a zone of immersion, a zone of emergence, equipment and training, involving serious risks to life/health, and imposing appropriate physiological restrictions on its few adepts. A diver at least needs to be taken to a diving site on another means of transport, and then picked up after immersion. Submarines have not been widely practiced — they are expensive, technologically-difficult, often dangerous, require constant attention and maintenance. As a result, submarines remain the prerogative of the military, researchers and people engaged in underwater work. Some tourist-entertaining examples of submarines only emphasize their rarity, and in fact, unsuitability for mass use. Man, plunging into the water, is usually limited to several hundred meters of water. Even if he has a mask with a tube and fins. In doing so, he must think about the currents, the possibility of observing the solid objects near him, and the way he will call for help if something goes wrong. Man in the water becomes a loner even at a distance of several tens of meters from his congeners, when the power of voice is not enough for the sound signals. It’s sad, lonely, powerless.
I think in the near future the situation will improve, especially taking into account the forecasts of ecologists about the general increase of temperature on the planet and increase in the area of the water surface of the Earth. People will somehow adapt to the new reality of existence. And they will use water more actively as an environment of work, recreation, sport, and existence. This includes creating cheap, light, mass equipment sets for movement in the water for distances of several kilometers. A kind of analogue of the classic bicycle, but for the purpose of expanding the water limits of mankind. The model of using water equipment described at the beginning of this article is just one of many options for its possible exploitation. What is the essence of technical changes? They are simple, and possible in the coming years, if not months:
a. to redirect from under the water to the air environment the signals of the swimmer’s electronic devices using air as a communication medium — for example, on an antenna fixed to the mask tube;
b. to give the swimmer a means of viewing, with which he can look not only under the water, but also above the water to choose the motion trajectory, not interfering with the air breathing from the surface, while under water;
с. to make comfortable wearables for changing buoyancy, similar to BCD, which are not intended for scuba diving, but for swimmer support during fast movement and short-term, not deep high-speed dives;
d. to make comfortable engines with body fastening so that they do not drown the swimmer, ad enable him/her to swim even with the engines turned off, and provide enough speed for quick movement for at least a couple of hours;
e. to think about how everything will work with each other, and what should be the reservation systems / complement systems in case of emergencies, or additional specific requirements, for example, for breathing during short-term dives, both deliberate (to swim across an underwater cave) and forced (in state of strong excitement).
And then, underwater hunting in groups and in singles on remote reefs, family excursions to corals without ships, competition for speed, reaction, mobility, underwater acrobatics, activation of exploitation of not deep water areas for farming, and, in the distant future, for underwater settlements.
“In the bustle of everyday life, I kept antedating thoughts by remembering our holidays every now and then. The hunting race was splendid. The taste of fried fish, caught that day, is still present. I’ve got such vivid and pleasant impressions which I couldn’t even dream of for a while. “We are bound to repeat our sea voyage” — I thought, submerging myself in the daily working routine.”