The dolphin-like Seabreacher draws attention on the Chicago River.

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Mid-Range Personal Submarines

The CQ-2 twin seater personal sub, manufactured by C-Quester, is a fully electric mini-sub that's capable of maintaining cabin pressure at one atmosphere. It looks like a small, enclosed speed boat, with two clear bubbles on top for the operator and passenger to behold the wonders of the deep. This means there are no decompression issues to worry about when diving and surfacing. The CQ-2 can run up to two and half hours underwater and has an emergency air supply that will last about 36 hours. Before the CQ-2, C-Quester was known for the single-seat model, and it now has plans to begin manufacturing a four-seat model. The four 36-volt electric motors pack about 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms) of thrust, and the company claims that it's no more difficult to operate than a boat. Even so, the price tag comes with a mandatory four- to six-day course on how to safely operate the craft. Maintaining a personal sub isn't easy or cheap, so C-Quester only sells their subs in markets where they have qualified mechanics available. For just south of $250,000 you can own a CQ-2, and say goodbye to your scuba gear.

There's no mistaking a Seabreacher for a marine science tool; this one is pure toy. Cross a jet ski with "Flipper" and you have the right idea. The sub is shaped like, and operates much like, a dolphin, right down to its bottlenose design. The cockpit is where the head and mid-body of the dolphin would be, with a clear bubble surrounding the occupants for optimum viewing. There are two wings and a rear tail that resemble dolphin fins. You can only go about five feet (1.5 meters) down in a Seabreacher, but enthusiasts of this craft aren't interested in an ocean-exploring deep dive. If you're wondering why it's called a "breacher" -- just like the dolphin that inspired the design, this sub can actually leap entirely from the water at a maximum underwater speed of 20 miles per hour (32.2 kilometers per hour). If you want to cruise the surface, you can crank that up to 35 to 40 miles per hour (56.3 to 64.3 kph). The Seabreacher ranges in price from $48,000 to $68,000.

These are just a couple of options for mid-range personal subs. There are many more models available in a wide price range. We'll look at some of the higher end models of personal submarines on the next page.