Surf’s up for patented Bermuda Snorkelboard
A unique body board, designed and patented by Sandys resident Murray Scott, was a hit at the Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida last month, where he sold 2,500 to attendees from California, Florida, Hawaii and Australia.
The boards even caught the attention of a representative from Disney Cruises who said he was tentatively interested in 50,000.
“I had to contact my manufacturer in China to ask if we could do that,” Mr Scott said. “They said yes, they can make that amount in a month.”
Mr Scott emailed the cruise line representative when he returned to Bermuda, and is now waiting to hear back.
While hopeful, he concedes: “Nothing is sealed, yet.”
But he had previously sold thousands of an earlier version some years ago.
Mr Scott, a learning support maths teacher, first came up with the idea while snorkelling with his wife, Lesley, at Tobacco Bay, St George’s, in 1999.
“We were just a little offshore,” he said. “I was snorkelling, but I was forced to stop several times to clear my mask.”
He noticed that when he rested his mask in the water without wearing it, he could clearly see what was underwater.
He was startled as he noticed a sand shark go by.
But right away, the idea of putting the snorkel mask directly into a body board came to him.
“It allows people to lay on the board and float over the reef rather than getting tired,” he said. “They don’t have to stand on the reef itself to clear their mask, potentially damaging the reef.”
His wife loved the idea right away because it meant she no longer needed to get her hair wet when looking at fish.
Mr Scott went home and began cutting a hole in a body board. His prototype was not an instant success.
“For my first mask, I glued Plexiglas together to form a box,” he said. However, any glue he used quickly disintegrated in the water.
“I ended up doing a process called sonic welding,” he said. “I had to find and buy a sonic welder because nobody that I knew had one.”
It helped him fuse the glass together so that there was less leakage.
It took him more than a decade to perfect his design. “I never dreamt it would take so long,” he admitted.
When he first started working on his idea, he had three children in university.
“The cost to do all this was astronomical, as far as legal costs,” he said. “I just did things step by step. When I could afford to pay the lawyer for the trademark, I did. Then I got the patent for it. I did not take out any loans.”
He released his first version of the Snorkelboard in 2014 at the North American International Toy Fair in New York City.
“I manufactured some and put them all out there,” he said. “It ended up being an expensive market test.”
He also sold about 2,500 then, which was a container load. People liked the concept, but there were problems with the product.
“It still leaked, and when it hit rough water, the mask popped out of the board.
“In 2016, I wanted to stop because the product was just not robust enough,” Mr Scott said.
But he went back to the drawing board. He now has five different patents on his latest invention.
One is for a rubber ring around the snorkel mask that allows the user to rest their face down comfortably while floating.
The board also has an apparatus that allows you to attach a Go Pro camera and take photos underwater.
This year, he has relaunched with a redesigned version meant to be more durable, stable, comfortable and eco-friendly.
He feels they are ultimately safer to use than straight snorkelling.
“People get tired when they are treading water all the time,” he said. “With these you can just lie on the board, so you don’t have to be a strong swimmer.”
He runs his Bermuda-registered business Snorkelboard Factory Limited with his son Brandon Scott, an architect.
In Bermuda, he is building up a distribution base and is just starting to take orders (email@example.com).
They are selling for around $195, not including accessories.