Looking for designer and builder for glass bottom charter boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Fisher Heverly, Oct 19, 2023.

  1. Fisher Heverly
    Joined: Oct 2023
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    Location: Hawaii

    Fisher Heverly New Member

    Hello,

    I am looking to start a glass bottom tour. Looking to have a 6 pack outboard boat built 25-28 must be able to handle moderate seas. Must be built in the US. Have funds just need a design and builder.

    thank you,
    Fisher Heverly
    Fheverly@icloud.com
     
  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Welcome to the Forum Fisher.

    Nobody has responded so far - and I can see why you are asking your question on here, as Google does not bring up anything about 'small' glass bottom boats.
    Re your '6 pack' license, will you be doing a combination of (eg) snorkelling and sightseeing tours for (up to) 6 pax, or will it be mainly focussed on glass bottom / underwater viewing trips?

    Re how you have funds available, could they extend to a bigger boat?
    Or do you specifically want to keep it at 6 passengers?

    Be aware that the cost of a custom design and a 'one off' construction for a small GBB will be high, and could approach the cost of a larger production boat that you could buy 'off the shelf'.

    The smallest glass bottom boat I could find online was the Newton 36 GBB - and she can carry up to 30 passengers.
    http://www.newtonboats.com/36glassbottomboat.html

    If your vessel has to be able to handle moderate seas around Hawaii, then maybe a bigger boat might be better?
     
  3. SolGato
    Joined: May 2019
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    Location: Kauai

    SolGato Senior Member

    You might check with Kurt Hughes. Have no idea if he has any experience or interest in glass bottom, but he has designed a number of specialized commercially used tour boats here in Hawaii.
     
  4. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Littleton, nh

    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    This video is 3 months old, but maybe a place to start looking.


    -Will
     
  5. Fisher Heverly
    Joined: Oct 2023
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    Location: Hawaii

    Fisher Heverly New Member

    Thanks guys for all the input. I did have a couple designers reach out so hopefully we can make something happen.

    I am looking for a smaller boat because there are no commercial slips where I am operating. I will be trailering daily for the foreseeable future. I was thinking upgrade to a proper COI boat down the line when a slip opens.

    I actually looked into the boat in the video but there are laws against operating a foreign built vessel. That one does look ideal though.
     
  6. Stephen Ditmore
    Joined: Jun 2001
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    Location: South Deerfield, MA, USA

    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Tideman Boats US builds in Wisconsin, though their office is in Massachusetts.
    Tideman Boats US – Tideman Boats https://tidemanboats.us/
    I wonder if their RB900 could be made glass bottom.
    If you'll be operating mostly at semi-displacement speeds, though, a monohedral design like the RB900 can be improved on.
    [​IMG]
    from Hull Design for Propulsion in Small Craft - Clara Boat Company by Nigel Irens https://claraboat.co.uk/hull-design-for-propulsion-in-small-craft/
    Discussion at Semi-displacement boats don't generate lift? https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/semi-displacement-boats-dont-generate-lift.67859/
    Also check out the Prince 26 Launch at: BPYD - Production Boats http://www.billprinceyachtdesign.com/production_boats.html
     
  7. kapnD
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: hawaii, usa

    kapnD Senior Member

    A 24’ glass bottom boat for most Hawaiian waters is a very challenging proposition.
    Im afraid the viewing well would be a puke hole on most days!
    The relatively calm waters in Kaneohe bay might be kind enough to pull it off in a small boat.
    There’s one guy that runs about a 40’ glass bottom outboard powered catamaran there, you might be wise to buy a ticket, pull on your Aloh shirt and go for a cruise.
     
  8. Stephen Ditmore
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    Location: South Deerfield, MA, USA

    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

  9. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
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    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    I don't know if this will help, but if you Google "transparent boats", or "clear boat", there are many of them available, fairly cheaply, though I'm not sure any are in your size - most are 1 or 2 person "kayaks" or canoes. You could try to tie together several like a catamaran or trimaran, which people often casually do using paddles with kayaks and canoes in small groups, but the result for tourists would have to be structurally sound in moderate seas.

    Remember, you are running it as a tourist boat, so provable (certified??) reasonable safety standards may be needed, more so than for individual private boaters, who can mostly do what they want. You could be sued or held criminally liable if something happened. Also, I wonder how safe that would be, if someone fell overboard.

    (BTW, many people have made their own transparent kayaks and canoes, out of many materials (even transparent urethane, as strange as that sounds.) Without certification.

    Many imported (not U.S. made) transparent boats are at Try A Wholesale Transparent Boat And Experience Luxury - Alibaba.com https://www.alibaba.com/showroom/transparent-boat.html.

    E.g.,

    Transparent Boat Clear Boat Clear Bottom Boat With Engine And Canopy - Buy Transparent Boat,Clear Boat,Boat With Engine Product on Alibaba.com https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Transparent-Boat-Clear-Boat-Clear-Bottom_1600942388020.html?spm=a2700.7724857.0.0.28261fc5xjffUk

    Sunlife Best Seller Transparent Clear Boat For Sales To Load 10-15 Passengers - Buy Clear Boat,Clear Boat For Sales,Transparent Boat Product on Alibaba.com https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/SUNLIFE-Best-Seller-Transparent-clear-boat_1600187905789.html?spm=a2700.7724857.0.0.28261fc5xjffUk.

    But note Alibaba's comment "Most transparent boats with cabs are suitable for use, however they are not meant for commercial use." That suggests there are safety and certification issues, and maybe they are meant for more sheltered inland water.

    Unlike most of the off-the-shelf transparent kayaks and canoes, you may need substantial flotation foam to meet reasonably high tourist safety standards - which will interfere with visibility.

    (Even a few transparent submarines, at rather high prices.)

    Though I assume glass can be more transparent. I wonder how transparent any of them remain after scratches and other wear. And how safe can real glass remain after scratches?

    This video youtu.be/12qk67AOqBI points out that it is awkward to go to the bathroom on a transparent boat - a possible concern for tourist boats. :)

    Also - a clear bottom on something off the water (e.g., elevated on pontoons) probably isn't good enough - except at nearly vertical angles, you get "total internal reflection", and can't see underwater - i.e., it would be little better than having passengers on the outside of an opaque boat.
     
  10. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Littleton, nh

    Will Gilmore Senior Member

  11. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I was wondering if the Jones Act -
    Merchant Marine Act of 1920 - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_Marine_Act_of_1920

    applied even to '6 pack' commercial vessels, but apparently not -
    https://www.maritime.dot.gov/ports/domestic-shipping/small-vessel-waiver-program

    Edit :
    A local boat building company here in Barbados built a couple of fibreglass glass bottom boats about 15 - 18 years ago for export to the USA, but I don't know if they were for private or commercial use.
    The company is A & T Marine - they don't have a webpage, just a rather out of date Facebook page -
    A & T Marine Ltd. https://www.facebook.com/atmarineltd

    The boats they built for the USA were similar to this 32' GBB they built some years later for a private owner here.

    32ft. Glass Bottom Boat.JPG
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2023
  12. Stephen Ditmore
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    Location: South Deerfield, MA, USA

    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    You live there and I don't, so you're surely right, but the west coasts of the islands are fairly calm, no?
    I sailed in a race off the east coast of O'ahu once and was on the puke-y boat, hobby-horsing terribly. The light displacement Wylie Wabbits seemed to have no such problem.
     
  13. kapnD
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: hawaii, usa

    kapnD Senior Member

    Thinking about it , there’s really not much to look at once you leave shallow water, unless you put your own mermaids under the boat. Shark tours are very popular here, but they never stay still, so you’d get very limited views of them through the boats bottom.
    This is the boat I mentioned earlier, the four big white boxes on deck are the viewing ports, with thick acrylic panels on the bottoms. IMG_1142.jpeg
     
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  14. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
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    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    Is your concern that transparent bottom boats generally have flat bottoms, so they bounce in the waves more than V-hulls and rounded hulls?

    Is there a good reason they have flat bottoms? Wouldn't a less flat hull would give you a wider field of view that isn't obscured by total internal reflection at the air-plastic and plastic-water boundaries (assuming by glass you mean transparent plastic), yet still smooths out the small surface waves, so you would have a better chance of catching a view of sea life?

    Ideally, an underwater sphere that you lower from a boat would be best, but they seem to cost a lot, if Triton's are typical.

    I assume of course that the sea life part of the tour would stay in very shallow water.

    Anyway, examples of non-flat boats that benefit from non-flat viewing windows:


    and
    Glass bottom boats and yachts LOOKER for sale https://paritetboat.com
    (Forget the high speed phase. You obviously can't see anything then.)
    (Obviously the passenger capacity is too large for the o.p., and it's made in Russia - so you can't buy a new one in the U.S. now.) Besides, they probably don't list the price for a good reason.)


    I guess in a sense glass bottom boats are silly - you can possibly see more at an aquarium, or you could go snorkling. Or you could attach an underwater camera to any boat.

    For that matter, there are lots of sea life screensavers. And live feed underwater cameras.

    But successful tourist attractions can be a little silly. Some glass bottom boat tours are popular for tourists.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2023
    bajansailor likes this.

  15. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    Location: Victoria BC Canada

    BlueBell . . . _ _ _ . . . _ _ _

    I agree.
    It all comes down to marketing, demographics, target markets, and meeting staffing needs and expectations.
     
    bajansailor likes this.
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