In the early stages of my company…also known as the learn the hard way stages…I received a call from a man who had lost a propeller off his boat. He had a thick Haitian accent, and was a bit hard to understand over the phone; so we agreed to meet at the waters edge on the day I was available. So I got all my gear ready and brought one of my divers out, and we met the gentleman and his brother on the edge of the Miami river in downtown Miami, Florida.
Now I had prepared my gear and my mind for a small propeller recovery. Evidently small is a relative term.
What this guy called small I called big. Like a propeller off of a freighter ship big. Well it’s a good thing I just happened to have the 2000 pound lift bag in the truck!
We then started to get more info from the two guys and learned that the were not actually around when said propeller and ship decided to go their separate ways. We also learned that the captain nor any crew were available to question, being as they were in Haiti. And to add to the fun, they were not entirely sure this was the right place on the river! Perfect. I have a 300 yard by 60 yard search area that might not even be the correct search area. Anything else? Oh yeah; there will be continuous boat traffic that will make our searching something like Frogger.
Ready, set, go at a very methodical pace. We started out doing Arc searches working from the Last Seen Point, and working up river. The ship had been waiting on the draw bridge to go up when the propeller came loose. So we judged where a ship that size would wait, factored in the length of the ship and what side the prop was on, and worked back to it’s starting destination. We spent about 2 and a half hours searching, when we finally located the object. Ok. Step one done. Now for step 2…get this bad boy up on land. We informed the brothers that we had found it and asked what they had planned as a recovery method. I was expecting a tow truck, or a crane, heck I would have been happy with a tractor. This big hunk of brass was not going to jump over that seawall on it’s own!
It was at this moment I realized how underestimating people are of raw materials and there weight. These guys wanted to pull this propeller over the seawall with 4 men and a rope. Negative ghost rider. We needed something bigger.”Well we have a forklift at the wharf!” I told them, “Great! How are we going to get it there?”
Anyone who decides to hire a random fisherman to tow an 1800 pound propeller that is attached to a 2000 pound lift bag up a river, is probably not the kind of person that should be making decisions. Well like I said before, this was in our learn the hard way stage of growth.
We finally made it to the forklift and got the propeller out. We seriously almost died twice. We also learned a lot of lessons. Like planning every detail of your mission before you start. If you are doing a hired job for a client, you need to clearly define what that job encompasses, and make it clear that you make the final decision. It is ultimately your safety. These guys had no clue what goes into recovering something like this.
In life you learn. In learning the hard way you learn a lot.