the new fuel dock on Bora Bora Way in Marina del Rey will look like this when completed. (Rendering courtesy of Harbor Real Estate Group)

I got in my trusty Boston Whaler photo-boat the other day to photograph a hot new sportboat for a magazine cover. In preparation, I had to swing by the relocated temporary fuel dock set up across the channel near Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey and get a couple gallons of gas.

I was curious to make the stop and see how everything was operating. I was told it was going to be kind of bare bones while the owner is having a new modern facility built in the same location on Bora Bora Way.

Now I don’t say any of this to cast aspersions. In fact, I’m looking forward to the new fueling area as it will be more convenient and it’ll also spruce up the Marina. In the mean time, fueling up could be a frustrating experience for those in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are only two pumps on the small dock — one diesel, one regular.

I came in on a weekday to get a couple of gallons of gas for my little 13-foot boat and there was a slightly bigger fishing boat (26-feet?) ahead of me and I had to wait for 65 gallons to be pumped — took a while. It was fine with me, I was ahead of schedule, but as I was leaving, a 50-foot powerboat was making its approach and I thought, “Wow, 15-minutes later and my shoot would have been ruined.”

Like a cast on a broken leg, it’s all forgotten with time but the cast is on now and that fuel dock is on its crutches and gimpy.

“As much as we’re going to try and do a good job over at the transient dock, the fire department regulations allow us to only fuel one boat at a time,” said Greg Schem, president of Harbor Real Estate Group, holder of the Marina del Rey Fuel Dock lease. “So, it’s probably going to be inconvenient.”

Schem suggests calling ahead if a boater needs a substantial amount of fuel and if possible, to fuel up now and get enough to carry through most or all of the winter season to avoid being delayed — which could well happen, especially on the weekends.

Although boaters have to negotiate, manage and possibly suffer with this issue for the next six months, Schem is quick to point out that it’ll all be worth it when the new facility is built.

“The docks are going to be state-of-the-art concrete float docks, floating higher and much more solid and part of the design, which is really the centerpiece, a 2,000-square foot floating convenience store that will be offering boating amenities, fishing gear, gourmet sandwiches, all kinds of neat things — so we’re thinking it’s going to be a real positive,” he said.

Schem said there will also be beer, wine and possibly even a humidor for those who might want to puff a fat cigar on the weekend. Harbor Real Estate plans to have systems in place that will allow boaters to access the store via the Internet and place orders of provisions for pick-up. It will also have better storage facilities for live bait that is supposed to reduce odor.

Beyond the retail elements, according to Schem, the new dock will be a smarter and more efficient design/layout than its predecessor as well.

“The fuel dock itself will be a little longer, but there will be more dock area,” said Schem. “Currently, our fastest pumps are 15 to 20 gallons a minute. The new ones will go 60 gallons of fuel per minute — that’s a gallon a second. Hopefully that will cut down on any kind of wait time for other boats and make things a lot more efficient.”

The new facility will also have a special area for the mega yachts that roll into town. Before these enormous vessels would take up an entire usable pumping station on busy weekends during the main season, but will now likely no longer interfere with business as usual.

So, the local boater will have to take his lumps now with these temporary pumps sent from 1965, but he/she should be enjoying the new 21st century version just as the days are getting long and the sun is feeling warm.

For scheduling orders of 100 gallons or more, call the fuel dock at (310) 574-4443.

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