Pam Says: Don't Forget Your Look Bucket

Whether you're searching for a reef to explore or the perfect spot to drop the hook, a look bucket can make the task much easier.

Cruising consultant and circumnavigator Pam Wall will be providing monthly tips on gear selection, maintenance and much more in her new online column Pam Says. Welcome Pam!

You may ask, "What is a look bucket?" Traditionally, it’s a glass-bottom wooden bucket, though today they are typically made of plastic with Plexiglas bottoms, which makes them much lighter and less expensive. So, why is this something I would want aboard my boat? Well, I wouldn’t leave home without one and here is why.

Have you ever thought you caught something around your propeller, but you really didn’t want to go into the water to see if indeed there was a line, or fishing net, or lobster pot floating line wrapped around that prop? With a look bucket, you can get into your tender and peek through the bucket as if it were a mask. From the tender, put the bottom glass or plastic into the water, slant it toward your prop and look down into the depths of the bucket. You will get a great view of your prop without getting into the water. This is brilliant if the water is really cold, and if you discover that a line is not the problem, you have saved yourself a swim in the frigid water.

What about checking to see if your anchor is holding properly? How great would it be to follow your chain down to where the anchor is in the sea bed, and using a look bucket in your tender to watch that anchor as someone at the helm backs down! I always like to find conch, crayfish, and grouper when cruising in the Bahamas or anywhere where I can safely bring dinner aboard from the sea. Having the look bucket in the tender, and checking over the side before I dive in, I can usually find my catch of the day without even getting wet. I won't dive in until I see something of great interest down under the water using the look bucket.

That bucket will also serve as a great place to throw the freshly caught fish for dinner, saving you from having to wash out the dinghy later.

You can easily make a look bucket yourself, or you might find them in a hardware or marine supply store.

So before you head to the islands, consider picking up a look bucket. It might just become an indispensable part of your cruising kit!

See you out there!

Pam Wall spent more than 10 years as an outfitting specialist for West Marine, and she now provides her expertise as a cruising consultant and seminar presenter at boat shows around the country. Pam has cruised under sail extensively, including a circumnavigation with her family aboard their 39-foot sloop, Kandarik. Check out her website at

Look Bucket

Look Bucket

A look bucket can help you find a reef to dive on, a place to anchor, and much more.
Look Bucket

Look Bucket

The view through a look bucket