Local inventor designs see-through raft

Local inventor designs see-through raft

Interest in son’s ‘Aquavue’ expands into business

Sean Snowden wanted his young son to get a comfortable look underwater, so he went looking for a raft with a clear bottom.

“All I found were a few loungers with porthole-sized viewing windows,” said Snowden. “Not to mention, they were intended for older kids and adults that could swim.”

So he set about designing a raft (with sides, to keep inquisitive kids that can’t swim in) and then having a proto-type made. Four months later, Tanner embarked on his maiden voyage of the Aquavue. Snowden said his son immediately started laughing and rolling around in the bottom of the raft.

“Because the bottom is flexible without air pockets, it feels like walking on water,” Snowden said. “He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. My wife swam under the raft and his eyes lit up!”

The icing on the cake? Snowden quickly realized that many members of the community also wanted an Aquavue. And his friends. And his family. So he set to work.

It’s taken less than a year from concept to completion to bring the raft to market. That’s a mean feat. Most inventors spends years developing their projects, shepherding the raft through manufacturing and creating the marketing campaign. Snowden chalks it up to experience.

His day job is a product designer for outdoor lighting and audio equipment. Although that involves 3-D modeling, overseeing in-house prototypes and working with manufacturers just as he did with his own raft, all that work is done with metal.

“I didn’t have any contacts. It was a complete 180 from what I am familiar with and was quite a challenge,” he said. “And, it’s the first thing I’ve ever done on my own.”

The Snowden family — wife Catherine, son Tanner, 2, mentioned above, and little Jackson, 2 months — have called Marathon home for five years. Both parents vacationed in Marathon for many years (separately, never meeting) and their love of the Middle Keys is strong.

“Although I was raised in West Palm Beach and went to school in Gainesville, it was never a question about where we would live,” Snowden said.

The patent is currently pending for Aquavue. In the meantime, Snowden wants more feedback from the community.

“We would love to get support from our local Keys community and welcome all feedback as well as video and photo submissions of families enjoying this very special raft in paradise,” Snowden said.

The Aquavue raft is available for purchase at www.aquavuevoyager.com as well as at amazon.com for $29.99.

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