Much of the workday for Scuba Duba employees is spent under water.
Since 1963, the Long Beach-based company has been offering cleaning services, repairs and inspections for boat hulls, docks and more in local marinas. And the divers are available for search and recovery missions, finding small objects dropped in the water.
Diver Scott Yelin, 35, who has worked for several years as the company’s quality control manager, discovered his passion for scuba diving while on vacation 10 years ago and turned that into a full-time career.
“It’s a whole other world down there,” Yelin said. “It hooked me.”
He’s in the water every day now, usually taking photographs of the bottoms of the boats that have been cleaned by one of the company’s other seven divers as a way to ensure the highest standard of work is being done. The company has about 950 clients who own boats that need to be cleaned once a month.
“Customers really rely on our honesty because they usually cannot see the work they are paying for,” Yelin explained. “That’s part of why I take the photos, too. Our clients know they can trust us, and you cannot just trust any diver.”
The divers, who are all certified, go to work with wetsuits, scuba gear and some simple tools such as scrapers, wire brushes and various scrubbing pads. It takes about an hour to clean the hull of an average boat, which usually means removing algae, tube worms, barnacles and other buildup that grows there.
Slipping into his unusual work environment, Yelin said it’s nice to be able to cool off when the weather is hot like it has been these past few weeks. And, he said he always enjoys seeing the wildlife below the surface: mostly sea bass, starfish, the occasional halibut, stingrays and octopus. He’s never seen a shark — although other divers have. Once or twice some unusually large animals in the water, even whales near one of the buoys he was cleaning, have surprised him.
“Not long ago, there was a sea lion right there in my mask, just checking to see what I was doing, I guess,” Yelin said.
Besides wildlife, Yelin takes note of the non-native objects he finds under water. He’s found shopping carts, tools, sunken ships, air conditioning units, pipes, fishing rods, bicycles, you name it. Sometimes, he is hired to help someone find a cell phone, eyeglasses or other objects that have been dropped. One diver with Scuba Duba once discovered human remains at a local dock.
The divers have seen business picking up in the last year or so, said production control manager Chris Wigham. Wigham has worked there for more than a decade and attributes an improving economy to the boost in business. He said some people who had been putting off regular boat cleanings or boat purchases are starting to come back to the water.
Scuba Duba was founded by Randy Crawford, who pioneered many of the hull cleaning techniques and quality checks used by the company. Crawford also is an expert when it comes to working with bodies of water on area golf courses and has patented machinery that he uses to dredge ponds.
There’s an equal amount of golfing memorabilia and nautical decorations in the company’s office.
For details about Scuba Duba, which has an office and its fleet of boats located at 255 Marina Drive, visit www.scubadubacorp.com or call 598-9444.