Energy & Sustainability
Re-Make:  Transparent boat

My latest guilty SkyMall pleasure is this “Moloniki” transparent polycarbonate canoe by Clear Blue Hawaii. It’s 13′ long, 3′ wide amidships, and almost 1′ deep, and the polycarb is UV-stabilized to prevent sun-yellowing. Of course it looks cool, but what is really attractive, to me, is the prospect of being able to see what’s going on underwater beneath you. The price, unsurprisingly, is prohibitive: $1600 new.

Ouch. I can’t justify that. Especially since the lip-syncing scandal tanked sales of my album.

So, as usually happens sooner or later, my thoughts have turned to making my own more accessible version. And, as I’ve learned by many embarrassing experiences, the first step of any new design project is researching what people have done before. There isn’t much out there, but after googling around for awhile I finally hit on it with “plexiglass boat.”


These pictures are from a fairly anonymous Picassa album belonging to “Shadicus.” If you know anything more about this boat or its builders, feel free to drop me a line. From what I can tell, this craft, which took first place in a “junk boat” contest, has a hull made of scrap polycarbonate sheet. It’s not great looking, and one of the captions mentions that “it takes on a little water.” Still, it’s a starting point: The Thing Can Be Done. And obviously it didn’t cost much.


Now, having wiled away the better part of a day building boats in my brain, I have my own fairly well-developed ideas about how it might be done. But I want to hear yours. So make with the comments, folks: How do we do this?

From the pages of MAKE:

Make Vol 06 p 50.jpg

Totch Brown’s Pit Gator Boat from MAKE 06 might be a good starting point.


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan