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Marblehead teen makes money above and below the water

Christian Wall spends his summers as a boat waiter and hull scrubber.

Christian Wall puts on his wet suit as he gets ready to clean the hulls of boats in Marblehead on Wednesday. (Spenser Hasak)

MARBLEHEAD — When the final bell rang in June, most high school students had visions of sunbathing and sleeping in, but Christian Wall, 16, saw an ocean of money-making possibilities.

A rising junior at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Wall spends his days diving in the water to clean the bottom of boats, and his evenings delivering dinner to boaters in Marblehead harbor.

“It feels like (I have) discipline,” said Wall. “This showed me how to manage a business and how to manage people.  I’ve gotten great life skills that you can’t always learn in school. It taught me time management as well.”

Wall took over Water Waiters Harbor Delivery last year. The company was founded by his friend Matt Rickards, who approached management at The Landing Restaurant about the idea to run a delivery service for people on their boats. Rickards created an app for Apple and Android phones that allows users to order food for delivery.

Boaters can choose from a menu that includes bruschetta for $11, lobster mac n’ cheese for $23, flat bread pizza for $10, a California chicken burger for $15, and a lobster roll for $20.

A delivery charge equal to 20 percent of the order is added and the food is brought to customers on their boat or dock.

At 18, Rickards decided he was too old to continue the business, and passed it on to Wall, who was 15.

Last year, Wall made about $1,500 delivering food to boaters. This year, he’s already pocketed about $2,000, he said.

The work sparked an idea for Rickards to make more cash on the water with a boat cleaning business, which he passed on to Wall this summer.

Wall cleans the bottom of anywhere from three to five boats per week, spending about two hours on each vessel. He charges $3 per foot in the length of the boat. With the average boat being about 30 feet in length, Wall said he makes about $90 for each job.

“A lot of drag gets created when there’s a ton of bottom growth,” said Wall. “We get rid of the bottom growth, but we also do entire boat cleaning.”

Incoming freshman Noah Kaplowitch cleans the deck while Wall, dressed in full scuba gear, dives beneath the water to remove growth attached to the hull.

To take over his friend’s business, Wall had to receive his Professional Association of Diving Instructors certification.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s awesome. It makes a lot of money and I’m out on the ocean every single day.”

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