The Explorer Story

The Explorer represents a new concept in Costa Rica Sportfishing by combining the swift maneuverability of a Panga boat with the fishing tools of a boat twice her size. The result? A smooth-riding craft that is capable of offshore trolling and inshore reef casting with all the right tackle to bring home the big boys.

Captain David Barrantes has been with FishingNosara for several years now; his most recent post was as Spotter Mate on the Wanderer. You may recognize him as the guy holding the billfish on many of the Wanderer’s great catches.

Regular readers of the report have watched this boat take shape, but here is a quick retrospective in pictures:

The Panga Boat hull is the trusted workhorse in bays, harbors, and marinas throughout Costa Rica. Many have been rigged for sportfishing before, however the Explorer is a new take on the concept of panga fishing.

Adding the ‘Client Console’ in addition to the ‘Captain’s Console’ allows our guest to get neck deep in the fishing action.

These are the original sketches that would become the Explorer. Made by Craig Sutton in May 2010, the final product bears a very strong resemblance to the these sketches

July 2010 – Hull Fabrication nearly complete.

August 2010 – Hull complete, awaiting delivery to Nosara for Rigging

October 2010 – Delivered successfully to Nosara Paradise Rentals.

November 2010 – First Water Test. Motor and Steering install complete.

Radio Arch built by Blue Water Towers and delivered to Nosara. Installed by Matty, Craig Jr., Grevin, and Comi during late-November 2010.

December 19, 2010 – Launch Day

Comi watches the tide and waits for the proper moment to launch.

Captain David finalizes the last details.

Captain Jack observes the Explorer from Playa Garza.

Captain David, Captain Jack, and Captain Craig on the Maiden Voyage.

‘Client Console’ has it’s own bottom machine and a great view of the action. The Explorer was booked for the first five days she was in the water, and her schedule is filling up fast. Look at all these clients getting their first taste of ‘Extreme Panga Fishing’…Do you have what it takes?

10 months later…


Captain David was hard at work redoing the bottom paint and some light maintenance to the cockpit, while Craig and Matty went about strengthening the hull supports of the Super Panga.

When we first launched the Explorer in December 2010 it was obvious that the added weight of the aluminum superstructure would eventually wear out the hull. To remedy this Captain David installed wood blocks between the gunwales and the consoles to share the load throughout the hull.

With 9 months of fishing under her belt, the Explorer shows no signs of wearing out; therefore it is time to make this quick fix into a permanent solution. Once again Craig’s skills with fiberglass were put to the test.

After scraping and grinding off the old fiberglass patch that had been holding the wood (above), Craig encapsulated the entire wood block in fiberglass while permanently securing it to the consoles with 3.5 inch screws.

The result is stunning! Once sanded, primed and painted these supports will look like they were part of the Explorer from the beginning. Excellent work by Craig, especially getting to the cramped underneath areas with hot fiberglass resin.

While Craig was up to his elbows in fiberglass, Matty went around the boat ‘freshening’ the hardware. Saltwater has a nasty habit of eating away at metals, and anything less than 100% stainless steel will not last very long in Costa Rica. It turns out that the hull manufacturer made a mistake when they installed the cleats and used less-than-stellar metal for the hardware. See the rust stains:

These will only get worse, and left unchecked will leave nasty brown streaks on the hull. Fortunately, this situation is easy to address with simple hand tools, a green scouring pad and a few dabs of that magical 5200 marine sealant.

In order to create an even bead of 5200 it is best to apply a small dab to the threads and turn the screw as it is inserted. This makes an even seal that keeps the saltwater out for years to come.

For the final look some people like to leave the rounded bead of 5200, though Matty picked up a neat trick from a local Tico for creating perfect seals without making a giant sticky mess.

“Back in December I was 5200-ing the footplates for the superstructure and making an awful mess,” Matty recalls. “This 10 year old Tico kid was watching and came up to me with a bucket of soapy water and begin pointing at the 5200 mess.”

“After some futile Spanglish and confused looks the kid put a bit of soap on his finger, swiped it down the bead of 5200 (leaving a perfect seal) and showed me his finger…which didn’t have a single molecule of sealant on it!”

“Since then I never run 5200 without some soapy water nearby.”

Check out the improvement from the unfinished bead (above) and the finished seal (below)

Craig and Matty also did some finish work on the Explorer. Captain David installed a new cutting board on the rear of the boat, and some work with a finish sander got her looking like a factory option rather than a DIY project (Special thanks to Dan Rey for letting us borrow the sander).

Lastly, we did a little cabinet work on the consoles to reinforce the factory shelves under the consoles. The little fiberglass nubs that held the shelf up were not destined to last very long, so Craig built a dead leg under the shelf and tied it into the newly fiberglass support block.

The result is a shelf that can stand up to the rigors of daily big-time sport fishing. On September 16 we received this email from Manuel:

“The super panga is ready for the action again on Monday.”

Here looking forward to another great season on the barroom brawler called the Explorer!

Next off season…

The Explorer is back in the water and she is primed for another season of rocking and rolling on the Costa Rican blue water. This year she has a new trick up her sleeve: a beautiful new bow rail which converts the prow of the Super Panga into a full-fledged casting platform.

As if the Explorer wasn’t scary enough for the reef dwellers, now Captain David has a new arrow in the quiver. Keep an eye right here on the FishingNosara blog as the season gets fired up this week.