Glass-bottom boats to be renovated

News Reporter

The glass-bottom boat tours hosted by the Meadows Center at Texas State will soon get a makeover.

The boat tours have been a San Marcos tradition for over half a century, said Sam Massey, Texas State alumnus and guide at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. The boats are due for renovations because of their age.

Deborah Lane, assistant director of the Spring Lake education program, said the Meadows Center currently has five boats in operation that will be receiving renovations.

The boats are in the water 365 days a year except when maintenance must be done, Lane said.

“The hull on the boats, or the bottom of the boats, is what the renovation will mainly focus on,” Lane said. “The hull is made entirely from wood, except the Plexiglas where people look down into the water.”

Over time, wood naturally breaks down. On average, $150,000 is spent per year to maintain the performance of the boats, she said.

“With this new renovation that will occur on all five boats, it will cost us less money in the long run to keep the boats in operation,” Lane said. “Overall, only around $20,000 will be spent on maintenance a year after the boats are renovated.”

Massey said the boats are durable.

“The way the boats are designed is great, and they have lasted a long time,” Massey said. “The boats do take a lot of upkeep and time to keep them in great condition, so this renovation process is something we are all excited about.”

Massey said the renovation will be “the beginning of a new era” for the Meadows Center and the glass-bottom boat tours.

“People come here to witness something they have never experienced before,” Massey said. “You can literally see the Edwards Aquifer flowing through the lake as well as the numerous amounts of species living free in the water.”  

Emily Young, theater sophomore, went on the glass bottom boat tour with her University Seminar class.

“The tour was such a fun experience that I sincerely feel everyone should take it at some point,” Young said. “You learn a lot about the importance of how much the environment means to this community.”

Young said she noticed the boats were old and out-of-date.

“I feel the renovation would be a big help,” Young said. “It’s crazy to think (the boats have) lasted so long, but when they update the boats, it will only attract more visitors to the lake.”

The renovations have already started, but Meadows Center officials have no estimate of how long the project will take, Lane said.

“I just really want people to understand how important the lake is and how much significance it has to our community,” Massey said. “The glass-bottom boat tour is an outlet for us to show people why we need to protect and conserve our water and the environment.”