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Hull Cleaning Information

Discussion in 'Seeking Employment' started by ehuber, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. fstbttms

    fstbttms Manta Ray

    Not sure what the decibel rating is for the Thomas 1020, but it is pretty quiet. You can easily hold a conversation standing right over it while it is running. I can't imagine any 2000-watt generator being quieter than the Honda EU2000i (I own two of them). Are they silent? No. But they ain't far from it. That being said, I don't use my generators in my dive business.

    I couldn't give two sh*ts if they mind. It's a safety issue. You should never dive a boat that's plugged in. Of course I always ask first, when the customer is aboard, and explain the reasons I need to unplug them. But if anybody bitched about it (before or after the fact) I'd tell 'em if they don't like it, they can find another diver. My life is worth more than the inconvenience of having to reset a clock or whatever.

    I can't speak for anywhere else but the Bay Area, but Ship Repairers Liability Insurance is not only required in many (and the number is growing) marinas now (usually $1,000,000 coverage) but it's part and parcel of running a professional dive service, IMHO. Just wrap your head around the fact that it's a necessary cost of doing business. I pay about $1500/year. Call Kathy Rupert at Mariners General in Newport Beach. (800).992.4443 or kathy@marinersins.com

    Having been in the business for over 15 years, there are very few marinas I work in that I don't have a gate key for. Further, most of my work is done by boat, negating the need for a key in any marina I travel to by boat. But, some marinas won't loan or sell you a key so you just have to make the march up to the office every time you want to get a key to get in. And of course, repeat the march when you want to leave. That just comes with the territory.

    I don't think Prop Speed (or similar products) will have any impact on the hull cleaning industry in California. In fact, I welcome them. Just because the running gear isn't getting as foul as it otherwise would with such a product being used on it, doesn't mean the rest of the hull isn't. The boat still needs to be cleaned every bit as often as before. Only now you don't have to spend as much (or any) time on the prop or shaft. How is that a bad thing? As for "boat-baths", I think they're a joke (besides being a PITA to use) and if they were going to become popular, they would have long before now. I'm not the least concerned about them as a threat to my livelihood. I think I know of one single example in all of the 20+ marinas we service. Further, the dirty little secret that all boat-baths have in common is that they require chlorine to be very effective. Pouring chlorine into any waterway in California is illegal, I guarantee. In any event, we don't see them in use much here.

    BTW- if you are going to get back into the biz, you should seriously consider joining the California Professional Divers Association. www.prodivers.org
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  2. mike_s

    mike_s Solo Diver


    The Honda EU2000i is prob about the quietest generator made.

    I can't imagine anyone complaining about the noise from one... especially compared to other generators.
  3. scubascrubAUS

    scubascrubAUS Garibaldi

    from what i have seen of Prop Speed, it can be effective, but it can also be not so, depending on the environment and prevailing conditions..... where i am and the places i work mostly in, there is a lot of run-off from catchment regions, meaning a lot of superphosphates enter the water, which promotes growth and algal blooms, and there seems to be an explosion of barnacle growth after large storm events.
    Recently the Prop Speeded vessels i have dived on have been in as bad, if not worse condition than the non Prop Speeded vessels.
    i think it comes down to whether a vessel is regularly used rather than what new fangled super killing paint product is being placed down below............

    and is it just me, or have doodlebugs become a lot less resilient lately? kinda annoying!!
  4. fstbttms

    fstbttms Manta Ray

    Now that you mention it, I have one pad in my box of white pads that I keep ignoring because it looks to be less dense than the others I have. Not sure if I picked up an off-brand pad somewhere, or if it is a less well-made, honest-to-God white Doodlebug pad. But other than that, I haven't really noticed a difference in how well the pads hold up. In fact, my big problem is not changing pads out requently enough. I don't know what it is, but I am loathe to throw out pads before they are really worn out, even though I know that using a fresh one will make my job easier.

    There has been something going on at 3M however. My usual Doodlebug source (Svendsen's Marine) doesn't carry the white pads anymore (I've been getting them from a janitorial supply). They tell me that 3M changed around some of their marine lines and that the white pad is no longer part of the marine product lineup, or something like that. But maybe it also involves a change in the quality of the pads. I dunno.
  5. sterlingMarineService

    sterlingMarineService Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle Washington, USA
    I have still been able to get the white pads here in Seattle just fine!
  6. EdRienerDivingCoInc

    EdRienerDivingCoInc Guest

    # of Dives:
    Location: PA
    Hey guys,
    I'm new here but I'm definitely looking into joining the underwater force- and I just want to thank you guys for all of the input- it IS a little difficult to find information on good practices. FastBottoms and SterlingMarineService def deserve a thanks- even past the age difference I've learned a lot from both. I'll most likely be joining my father's company in Dana Point (Insured, certifications aplenty, 35 years experience, Capt. Lic. etc., hundreds of customers) as a college student, but diving as many hours as I can. I literally grew up at the harbor, and have seen good practices for 22 years- but I would like to expand aplenty to practice marketing techniques and insure my college tuition.
    I've already read the 35 pages of this thread, and I know full well that word of mouth is the best form of marketing in this business, but my question is: what should I NOT do when recruiting new customers (i.e. practices that will burn other divers). The business name is very well respected, and the service is reported as excellent, but to gain more work for myself, I will need to pick up plenty more accounts, which could lead to pulling dozens of customers off another's payroll... is there any way to avoid it?
    BTW, Fastbottoms, basically every practice you have described is almost a mirror image of this company- good s***
  7. fstbttms

    fstbttms Manta Ray

    The California Professional Divers Association (of which I am a board member), at the request of the City of Newport Beach, held a Best Management Practices Certification Course for hull cleaners in Newport Beach on June 26th. Eight of your dad's competitors joined the CPDA and sent divers to the class. They are now the best informed, most environmentally-proactive hull cleaners in the L.A.-Orange County region. Unfortunately, we did not have contact info for Ed Riener Diving or we would have invited your dad to participate.

    Go here to learn more:

    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  8. fstbttms

    fstbttms Manta Ray

    It sounds like your old man isn't going to bench one of his current guys to give you work. Picking up new clients will be a long, slow process. Customers who are happy with their diver are not likely to switch simply because you happen to offer your service. You can offer a lower rate, but not only are you guys in SoCal already the cheapest in the country, but you hurt every legitimate service by undercuting prices (as your dad is no doubt well aware). As a new diver you will initially pick up the poorly-maintained boats and clients who are more concerned with saving a buck than anything else. Unless you have something very special to offer, you won't be sniping alot of anybody else's clients.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  9. grouchyturtle

    grouchyturtle Divemaster Candidate

    Can someone re-post that link to the cheapo DIY hookah compressor. Sorry forgot who posted that originally. Also any idea if it's also available as a DC or gas unit?

    I have a shiny new Nuvair that I got to fill my tanks. Already decided that it's just TOO big and heavy to stay aboard. So, I'm thinking maybe a hookah...as much as I'm not a fan of them, at least for when I get to those more remote spots, where it may be impossible to get fills.
  10. skoobajunkie

    skoobajunkie Angel Fish

    As a hull cleaner here in SW Florida, I agree with fstbttms. I have only been doing this a year, and have picked up enough business to only work 2 weeks out of the month, doing 2-3 boats a day. This work is not alot of fun, or even easy to do in some cases. most of the time, even here in SW Florida, the water is dark and dirty. I have hooked up with a yacht service here that takes care of the topside, and contracts out the bottom. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have alot of my business. I get stragglers here and there, but most of them are like "hey come clean the bottom of my boat that looks as if it was sunk for an artificial reef for $100" I usually dive the boat and give them a quote.

    As far as anyone looking to get into this business, I would suggest (as fstbttms said) start with something simple. I started with an oil-less compressor with wheels from home depot (around $100) with a 50 ft hose, and a 2nd stage. I use the hookah system because it's simple, portable, and electric. I unplug every vessel I'm diving on, and use a adapter to plug into their shore power. I use a full body wetsuit in the winter months and a shorty in the summer (barnacles CAN cut ya up pretty bad) As far as tools, I use a multi tool paint scrapper (from walmart) for metal parts (intakes, struts, trim tabs, props) The multi angles on the tool allows you to get into tight spaces. and the curved edge is perfect for scrapping shafts. I use a green course paint pad (from walmart) for wiping the bottom. depending on the condition of the paint is how hard I scrub as it can take off some paint. I use the fine white pad for wiping the gelcoat sides. One of the hardest parts is when I get a boat thats filthy, trying to find all the spots the zincs go, since most of them are worn away.

    Here in FL. the average is $2.00 - $2.50 a ft. I charge $2. I have found that some of the bigger companies that clean the bottoms don't take their time. I have dove under a boat after a competitor has left just to take a look, and although I think I would have done a better job, I leave the boat alone. after all, if the owner has it hauled out, and sees the condition, I might just get that business.

    From what I was told before I started, close to 80% of the people that get into this end up quiting. If you think it's like "pleasure diving" ya got another thing coming. the most pleasure I've had from bottom cleaning is a migration of stingrays swim by for about an hour, and occasionally bumping into a manatee, and if you're doing this in Florida, the amount and size of sheepsheads is unbelievable! they just get right up in your face and scoop up all the barnacles. they don't care if your working or not.... heh

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