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AquaLens Underwater Viewing System

Dive, Dive, Dive

If a remote-controlled submarine’s too pricey for your budget, try a submersible on a stick.

Capt. Bill Pike testing the AquaLens underwater viewing system

For weeks, I’d been anticipating the arrival of an AquaLens (an underwater viewing system that mounts on an extendable boathook) from the folks at Aquabotix. While I have no trouble checking on the health of the transom zincs on my boat by simply lying prone on her swim platform and reaching underwater, checking the condition of the deeper, way-less-accessible propshaft zinc (as well as the prop itself) in wintertime North Florida is a chilly, virtually impossible task, unless you happen to own a wet suit and a scuba rig. So was a remote, waterproof video camera—a sort of miniature submarine on a stick—gonna be cool or what?

After my AquaLens arrived, I wasted no time assembling its components (viewing sphere, angular adapter, topside box with on/off switch, and small LCD screen with wristband) and trying it out on my boat’s running gear. The result? Because the river my boat calls home is an exceptionally dark one, with water colors that approximate tea—and indeed strong tea—I could not even see my prop zinc and prop, let alone closely examine them.

There is some good news to report, however. Subsequent to the tryout at my marina I employed the AquaLens in the depths of a large freshwater spring with exceptionally clear water near my North Florida home. The result was way more positive. I found I could check the undersides of boats in the crystal-clear water quite easily, zooming in for close-up detail. Indeed, resolution was excellent. My conclusion based on my experiences with the AquaLens is simple: At $795, the device is pricey. It works nicely in clear water, but not so well in the dark stuff.

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This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.