On Board With: Jeremy Dennard

Jeremy Dennard turned his love for scuba diving into a career helping people maintain their yachts and boats.
Jeremey Dennard is a barnacle-busting pro
Dennard manages a dozen divers as they scrub running gear, replace zincs and change props. Vincent Daniello

Some people truly go overboard at work. While at his job roughing-in electrical systems in new houses, Jeremy Dennard reminisced about idyllic days as a teenager scuba diving off South Florida, so he took a job with Barnacle Busters. That was 18 years ago, and Dennard now manages a dozen divers as they scrub running gear, replace zincs and change props on Florida’s east coast from Stuart through Fort Lauderdale. We asked him about his job. —Vincent Daniello

What is busting barnacles like compared to electrical work?

“I was tired of getting shocked and climbing ladders as an electrician. Now I jump in the water and get shocked and climb ladders.” [Apparently, sonar pulses from big transducers on sportfishers can give a pretty interesting zap. —Ed.] “It’s one of those shocks where you want to touch it again to see if you were really shocked, but you don’t want to touch it again to find out.”

Seriously, though, what’s it like diving in a marina?

I was certified and started diving at 13 in South Florida, mostly on nice flat days with 60-foot visibility. It was a shock to jump into a marina where you can’t see the bottom, you can’t see your feet, sometimes you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. I’m trying to get back into diving for fun. I have a 13-year-old son who just got certified, and it’s everything to him just like it was to me at that age.

Do you worry about wildlife?

Under one big motoryacht, there’s this 6-foot, 500 pound Goliath grouper staring at me, literally a foot and a half away. It followed me around like a puppy dog. Another time, I’m pulling props and everyone at the boatyard is saying, ‘Have you seen the big gator?’ I finally said, ‘No, and if you want these props off, stop telling me about the big gator.’

So is it more Jacque Cousteau or Mike Rowe?

There are days where I get home and brush my beard and find dozens upon dozens of dried-up sea monkeys coming out. And there’s the time the ENT pulled broken barnacle pieces out of my ear.

Read Next: On Board With: Sue Wicks

What is a good day working beneath boats?

On a big, difficult prop job—maybe 50-inch-diameter props that weigh 700 pounds—sometimes the props won’t come off. To have those props pop, to hear that ring while you’re tightening the prop puller bolts, that’s a good day to me.

What are the biggest and smallest boats you’ve cleaned?

The biggest is a 315-foot Lurssen. The shafts are as big around as buckets. I sat on the hub of the propeller to scrape the blades, and they’re as big as I am. The smallest is a 9-foot little plastic rowboat we cleaned every month, sitting in a 50-foot slip.