Secrets of the not-so-deep at Canoe Lake


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HAVE you ever wondered what lies beneath the surface of Canoe Lake?

Well, inventor John Corney had, so he set about creating an underwater vehicle, complete with video camera.

John, an expert in submarine vehicles whose job sees him help companies drill for oil and gas on seabeds, normally pilots the devices, but decided to build his own on his kitchen worktop at his home in Southsea.

John Corney, at Canoe Lake, Southsea with his remotely operated underwater vehicle. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13304-919)

John Corney, at Canoe Lake, Southsea with his remotely operated underwater vehicle. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13304-919)

Yesterday, he winched his device down into the lake to capture a snapshot of the underwater environment.

The 56-year-old said: ‘I built it in four days and nights. I didn’t sleep during that time.’

John’s robot, which hasn’t got a name, is about 70cm long and 40cm wide and is fitted with a camera, lights, a sonar device to pick up echoes and has a set of propellers.

John, who has also built a terrestrial metal-detecting robot to help find treasure, said the device could potentially fitted with tools, such as a claw, to carry out underwater tasks.

He said: ‘Sadly I didn’t find the Titanic at the bottom of Canoe Lake or any model boats.

‘Apparently when they sink the operators just wade in and get them out. One interesting thing was we didn’t see a single crab – I don’t know where they’ve all gone.

‘We did spot a prawn skipping past though.’

Canoe Lake is a few feet deep but John has winched robots down much, much further.

He explained: ‘I was working off the coast of Angola. I took the robot down to 2,036 metres.

‘It took 40 minutes to lower it down with a winch.’

John grew up in Horndean and was a hospital audiologist until 10 years ago when he decided on a complete change of career.

The turning point for him was being injured while working as a medical volunteer in the Gulf War.

He said: ‘I had a fracture in the top of my back and I could no longer bend down to look into a patient’s ears.’

He said he wanted to build his own robot to maintain his skills as there can be long lay-off periods in his line of work.

John added: ‘I have worked all over the world – sometimes at a moment’s notice.’

Click here to see a longer version of John’s underwater exploration of Canoe Lake, with his commentary