The maiden voyage has occurred! We chose the man-made lake at the Quarry here in Naples for her first trials. The water was bathtub warm and fairly clear. There was a substantial bank of weeds about thirty feet out, however the bottom up to that point was sandy, soft and clear!
Al Nucifora, the owner of the boat, and I had prepped the sub for operations back at my shop, so when we got there, we just needed to drop it in the water and have some fun!
She performed beautifully! There was a small issue with my emergency buoy system not being set properly, and it popped after only a few minutes of operation. The good news is that it worked (just too quickly!). It will be just a matter of adjusting the potentiometers to properly set the delay time in order to get that rectified. With just a turn of the skiff, we locked it down, electing to continue running rather than take the model out of the water and reset everything.
Speed was not quite as fast as I had anticipated, however in retrospect the Nautilus' hull is not conducive to speed at all, with tremendous drag induced by the salon pushouts and the thousands of rivets on the hull. She did put up a huge bow wake, though, and was very impressive on the water. That is really the advantage of having a substantial-sized hull! You WILL notice it on the water!
The turning radius I would estimate as being 18' in open water. I think that could be reduced with the addition of a clear rudder estension, however for lakes or other larger open water it is just fine! Diving was perfectly flat and very predictable.
We did have one "incident" however!
Both Al and I were having so much fun and concentrating so much on taking photos that we neglected to count the blow cycles, and the model ended up out of gas for the ballast system! What ended up happening was that when Al noticed the lack of gas for ballast, he let off the throttle as a precaution. The model settled onto the weedy bottom of the lake and became entrapped to the point that it could not force its way through the weedy forest and back to shore. Al and I bit the bullet and elected to wade in after it immediately. Fortunately the water was very warm and fairly clear. After only five minutes of searching, we came across the Nautilus resting peacefully and waiting for us to find her. The very bright LED lights (especially the tail light behind the skiff) made finding her a lot easier. We brought her to shore, checked out the systems and popped her back in the water for a few final shots before we packed up for home!
All in all, a very successful first voyage! Both I and Al were really happy with her performance, and she will no doubt be a huge head turner both in and out of the water at the pond wherever its taken!
Onto the video, of course!:
And the photos!: