A Bucket-Load of Fun! Another Product Review

As much as I love how beautiful it is when we’re out on the water up here in the Pacific Northwest, there is one thing I am looking forward to experiencing when we voyage to the other parts of the world: warm water. The water up here is killer cold. This water is so cold that the idea of swimming or snorkeling in it makes me want to run screaming to my hot shower. But I love snorkeling and always wish I could see under the water when I’m in shallow areas in the kayak or in puddler. My secret dream is that I had been a marine biologist. Alas, another life perhaps.

So I was very excited when my daughter gave me this Reef Scope bucket from Top Shelf Marine for my birthday, just in time for our trip to the Gulf Islands.

We stopped at a marina in Seattle so Claire could give me her present. Yep, that’s our girl.

I was so excited that she thought about this as a gift for me! She knows I’m always wishing I could see all the little animals that hang around the docks. The view from the bottom of this bucket is awesome! It’s just like wearing a good scuba mask, without the fogging up and getting wet problem. And the bucket is big enough that an adult can put her head down inside it. Also, I don’t have to remove my jacket!

We couldn’t wait to use it so we flopped down on the dock together and were rewarded by seeing a beautiful jellyfish swim by. Do you know how gorgeous those are underwater?

The Reef Scope is a sturdy 5 gallon bucket with an extra strong, yet totally soft handle. The acrylic lens is 1/4″ thick, and you can actually use this as a bucket as well as an underwater viewer because it’s that well made. I appreciate that the handle is soft enough that it doesn’t hurt my hands when the bucket is carrying my treasures. The bucket comes with a lens protector made of expanded PVC. I understand from Brad at Top Shelf Marine that it is completely waterproof and UV stabilized, so it sounds like it will last a long time. But I’m probably going to get one of those canvas bucket inserts you can buy at the hardware store because I don’t want to take a chance on scratching the lens. It’s protected on the bottom by a little rubber ‘foot’ that holds the lens above the ground. Nice touch!

Lest you think this bucket is just for kids like me, think again! Mike can use this bucket to check our hull and rudder. If you are in warmer areas and you are lucky enough to scuba dive or snorkel, you could check for the presence of dangerous, toothy marine animals by using this bucket from the safety of your dinghy.

Mike hanging off the back of Puddler, watching the fishies. We both spent a lot of time in this position.

I got this photo hanging off the dock up in Sidney, BC. The lens makes everything look bigger, which is cool until a spider crab suddenly appears in your field of vision. Yikes! They are pretty scary looking up close and personal like that. Also, looking underwater is so hypnotic it’s easy to forget yourself and lean WAY over. Children should not be left alone with this thing.

Yes, the water is beautiful but deadly cold.

If you don’t have a useful bucket on your boat, you can probably find a place for one of these. It would be a dandy place to store hats and gloves on the boat. At $49.99 it’s a pretty pricey bucket, but because it is so well built and useful, it’s completely worth it (especially since Claire paid for it). Now that I have mine, I will never be without one.


This one is from the Top Shelf Marine website.



12 thoughts on “A Bucket-Load of Fun! Another Product Review

  1. What a fantastic idea and such a thoughtful gift! I totally want one! I’ve often wanted to see what’s been swimming under our boat. I’ll have to do some research and see if I can pick one up in Australia. Thanks for sharing.

  2. One of my favorite blogs! What a terrific gift. It’s the way I could go ‘snorkeling’ too…you and Claire beaming with the bucket in the middle is priceless!!

  3. I’ve heard about these buckets, but I’ve never seen one, so this is great! Your description of the lens thickness, and the size of the bucket (it’s bigger than I imagined, but it makes sense to accommodate the diameter of one’s head peering inside) makes me curious about weight. Is it heavy?

    • It is heavier than a cheap plastic 5 gallon bucket that you might buy at Home Depot, but I would not say it weighs enough to be termed ‘heavy’. Substantial is a better word for it. A person could probably make one of these, but I doubt it would be as good, especially because the handle is awesome.

  4. LOL, This is awesome! I imagine it would it easy to just fall in looking into the wild blue yonder.

    Unfortunately for us that bucket wouldn’t work here. You’d put it under the surface and see exactly what you see looking at the surface…opaque brown water.

    But It’s super cool the water up there is so clear. Think you’ll be brace enough to look through when Orca’s are around? How incredible it would be to see one of those underwater.

    • Some day, Dani, you and Tate will be in an area where the water will be clear and Tate will want to check his rudder without getting wet. Then you will need one of these! In terms of the whales, I would be completely game to see one under water. But I think that if they were anywhere that close, they’d be surfacing and I’d probably be seeing them right next to the boat. Thrilling, always.
      One thing you might not know about our Orcas is that the ones we call ‘resident’ Orcas are a different kind than the ones anywhere else in the world. Up here, we have either the ‘residents’ or ‘transients’. Our resident Orcas eat salmon, not mammals. The transients are mammal eating predators and a whole different kettle of fish, as it were. They are the kind that kill seals and sea lions by tossing them into the air. They also kill other whales. It’s a little disconcerting, to be sure. I’m not sure I would want to see a transient Orca underwater.

  5. Hi Melissa,

    What a great bucket… just what I want. So with Christmas coming up… 🙂 I just went to the website and found a few more things that would be great stocking stuffers for Cap’n Bill. Must order them immediately!

    We’ll be flying to New Zealand where our boat, Terrwyn, is on the hard in early February to start our next leg of sailing (this time to S. Africa). I know what we’ll be taking with us in our luggage!! (Along with all the fishing gear that Cap’n Bill has been collecting!) Hmmm… I hope our sailing kitty can handle the overweight luggage fees we’ll be forking out!

    Thanks for another great idea 🙂

    Fair winds

  6. OOh! LUCKY!! Ok, I will admit to being a tad bit envious here but I am controlling it mightily as I wish you many fair winds and wonderful sailing and bucket using! Also, hope you will renew posting to your blog about your experiences. I’m looking forward to reading about them. You will not regret the bucket. It is completely awesome.

  7. Thanks Melissa! I have been so bad about posting to our sailing blog when we’ve been landlocked. Despite that we have had the chance to do some very nice sailing on some of our friends boats this last summer. Believe it or not I am still trying to post the video that we took when we were in French Polynesia. Must get going on that before we start on the next leg of the journey! Thanks again for the bucket idea 🙂

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