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Date: 22 November 2014. Glass-bottom Dinghy.

janice142
 

An online associate made reference to the Cruising in Comfort book by James Skoog recently. The boater asked about installing a viewing port in his tender's hull. Skoog suggests when building a dinghy to make one plank out of Lexan. Then you can see through the boat to what's underwater. My buddy asked if that was true.


Side Note:
I do not recall reading Cruising in Comfort though I probably did at some point years ago. The link is added for your convenience, and because I'm an Amazon Affiliate.
 

[Warning: I'm going to sound like a mealy-mouthed politician.]

In a word no, and yes. Algae does not have one, yet.
 


 

After riding in a glass bottom tour boat my Daddy and I thought a viewing panel would be a wonderful addition to my dink.  He used a piece of 1/2" thick Plexiglas and thru-bolted it into the bottom of my old *Beetleroo. Liberal use of epoxy meant it did not leak.

*Beetleroo was a dinghy manufactured back in the 1940's and 50's. Mine was a beater -- used, abused and enjoyed thoroughly.
 

The bolts also meant there was an ever present danger of stubbing my big toe.  You would think I would learn however it became constant a source of irritation. I swear (quite proficiently, albeit silently) more than once I rued the day I wanted the doggone view.
 

 

Fishing Fantasies

 

The idea was that while underway (putt-putting along as I had a 2-hp Seagull outboard back then) I could scan the ocean bed. I would look for tasty things such as horse conch and likely spots where fish could be caught.

 
Horse Conch are about 18" long.
Red, Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper.
 


Side Note: The fish photos shown here are from my Golden Guide called Fishes. I recommend this one because the pictures are lifelike. It is a pocket size and just 160 pages. Scanning through you will be able to identify that fish you just brought up.
 

As long as I am spending your perfectly good money, also buy the Golden Guide called Fishing. I believe both are of value aboard cruising boats. There are bigger/more complicated fishing books but I prefer the shortened more concise information found in Fishing. I do not want the extraneous so opted for the Golden Guides.
 

They retail at less than $10 each, and earlier versions offer the same content. Except, well, the glue eventually starts to give way. Another of my GG's, Seashells of North America (the horse conch picture above) is from 1968 and for some reason the glue isn't as spiffy as the Fishes book dated 1955. Seashells is a larger format (taller, more pages) so perhaps that's the reason why or the company used a different glue in 1968.
 


After 40-plus years... well, you shall hear no complaints from me.
This book is well past good enough and bordering on spectacular!

 


With my Plexiglas panel offering glimpses of the good stuff, I had visions of broiled snapper, conch chowder and fritters. Or baked barracuda -- just the small ones, three feet or less. *Barracuda has a scrumptious white filet and is one of my favorites... and easy to catch. But I digress...

*Barracuda is known for a toxin called ciguatera. It is at least sickening and at the worst, deadly. This toxin accumulates in the fish so the bigger the fish the more likely the danger. Be careful. To be safest, do not eat barracuda.



What I saw with the Plexiglas however was a lot of bubbles. You see any forward movement and the air bubbles completely obscure the view beneath the boat. 
 

Now the glass panel does work well when you are stationary. There is nothing quite like watching a fish suck your bait into its mouth and spit out a clean hook. At least you know to re-bait the hook. After all, you have a hungry diner down there.
 

If you are particularly lucky, you can catch the shrimp-stealing culprit and retrieve the bait. I toss extra bait overboard for chum. I enjoyed the glass bottom in my old dinghy but for me, this is not a front-burner project.



 

If you are stuck inside over the winter adding a plexiglass panel to your dinghy might be something to consider. Though the hoped for ability to scan the bottom while underway was not to be, watching the marine life down deep is always fun in clear waters.



If your water is murky a plexiglass panel will be essentially useless.  Clear water makes a big difference.
 

This is one of those projects that seems like a good idea
at the onset, but the outcome did not live up to expectations.
 

A viewing panel such as mine does work if you're sitting still. I would consider adding one to Algae, even though I know the whole "glass-bottom" experience will not be perfect. It will however be good enough.
 

And there's nothing like a freshly caught dinner. Cap'n Dave has done well, eh?

 

Have you added a viewing port to your dinghy?
Do you use a Look-Bucket too? I made mine out of a Dollar Store bucket and it's a gem.
 

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2014, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Books, Characters, Fishing, Gear, Memory Lane,

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