It seems so long ago when I was reading articles about the Marina del Rey fuel dock’s impending refit. Rumors circled that it was going to be very nice, with longer cement docks, shiny new pumps, a better bait setup and all kinds of other cool stuff for local boaters.

But there were also rumors (that turned out to be true) that the project was on hold due to an economic collapse the country hadn’t seen in generations. But time moved forward, purse strings loosened and the ability to finance a modern on-water fuel facility finally became a reality.

Concepts were developed,

drawings were published and the local boating community awaited its new hub. A place where we could not only fuel up, but where we could now get a fresh sandwich, get the scuba tanks filled and maybe even grab a cigar from the on-site humidor.

In an interview with owner Greg Schem days before the old dock closed down he spoke optimistically about what was to come. He supplied renderings and detailed the many ways the dock would indeed be a 21st century establishment. He also hinted that there would be a bit of pain before the pleasure.

While the new dock was being constructed — no small undertaking — boaters needed to get their fuel from a makeshift facility on the other side of the harbor, a few hundred feet from Fisherman’s Village. Schem suggested that boaters try and fill up for the winter season as there was only one pump and potentially long waits if one happened to get caught behind a big boat filling up.

The other reason one might have wanted to fill up once for the season at that temporary dock was that this place was something people usually only see in their haunted dreams. I pulled up in my Boston Whaler one winter day and waited for the attendant.

Unlike the old dock, this temporary space apparently couldn’t allow the attendant to be on the dock waiting for customers — they would come down from a little shack up the ramp, on land. Although there was a little broken down structure on the dock, I assumed it wasn’t safe as any kind of habitat. The sinking dock’s rotting wood was battered by thousands of sun-filled days — it was like getting gas in an apocalyptic future.

As I tied my lines to the aging cleats I expected a humpbacked man, cloaked in black with a limp and no tongue to ask me what I needed, but it was usually a nice guy named Troy.

I kid, but the contrast is stark. As I passed by the new dock this past Fourth of July weekend, I was impressed. It’s clean and spacious, and fueling up is much more convenient.

“It turned out better than I thought,” Schem said about seeing the facility as a reality. “We are able to provide fuel at 15 hose locations throughout the entire 300-foot fuel dock at pump speeds up to 60 gallons per minute.”

The dock also now has a designated area for mega-yachts that used to occupy fueling space. In addition to actual fill-up improvements, the concession area is vastly different from the two-small refrigerators and chips rack that used to be present.

Although the dock’s still being finished, Schem was excited about what will be available to boaters from now on.

“The floating store is evolving into a ‘maritime general store’ supplying everything from food and beverages, boating supplies, personal items, ice, bait, beer, wine, fishing licenses, lottery tickets, coffee, safety equipment, recreational equipment, scuba tank refills and marine pump-outs and oil changes,” he said.

Store and fuel dock hours are from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. during the summer and 5 p.m. during the winter, seven days a week.

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