By: Captain Alan Roberts
We arrived at the shipyard in LaCeiba, Honduras in January, 2017. I had just invested my retirement savings to purchase the former Utila Aggressor with the intention of restarting the Aggressor presence in Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras.
The boat had been sitting in the shipyard and we had a large task of getting the vessel ready for our first charter starting June 3, 2017.
There was plenty to be done we had a long list which we added to every day, the onboard engineer, John B, myself, Mario the electrician, shipyard workers, painters, welders, carpenters, you name it! We all worked 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week, none stop. One day I asked John B if he knew any local yard guys that wanted to help us get the job done and he brought “Ernesto” onboard the next day.
Ernesto was a young man from the Miskito Coast, he spoke a different twang of Spanish, I didn’t understand a word he said and he didn’t understand me either! He didn’t wear shoes, couldn’t swim, and was at the most 120lb soaking wet. Just perfect for all the tight spaces we needed to work in!
Ernesto worked with us onboard at the shipyard day in & day out, never a complaint. 14 hours a day, any job every job. Always with a smile & a “Yes, Mr. Alan”.
We managed to get the boat ready to leave the mainland to head over to Roatan 40 miles away. I invited “Ernesto” to come along for a couple of weeks to help finish getting the boat ready! He was happy to join us on the trip over and worked until we left on our first charter. Was that the end for Ernesto? No! He continued to come over to Roatan every Friday to help clean the boat and prepare it for the next charter. One Saturday, I asked John B to tell him that if he wanted to come on a charter and check it out, we had a spare bunk for him. The next charter, Ernesto came on as an extra crew member, washing dishes, taking guests fins, helping wherever he could; still barely speaking English. This went on for several months, Gabi and the crew were teaching him to swim, then dive and he was working on his English. One day I called Ernesto over and he said “Mr.Alan my name is not Ernesto, my name is German!” Surprised, I asked him why he had not told me his name was German before?
He simply said. “Mr Alan I could not speak English so I couldn’t tell you my name was not Ernesto!” So German it was!
Well German continued to work on his diving skills and learning the English language. He became a certified SSI/Padi Divemaster onboard. He worked with our engineers John B and Captain Eddie maintaining and repairing equipment in the engine room. He also went on to marine school and obtained his marine engineering license and now works onboard as a full-time crew member as divemaster and 2nd engineer.
German has 2 young children and a wife who still live on the Miskito coast of Honduras. He has started a cattle farm with his family and is known onboard as the “night diver octopus whisperer”.
He now wears shoes, puts on fins and uses wrenches daily! He loves to take guests octopus hunting and is known by his proud name of German, not Ernesto 🙂
And we are all very proud of him!