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The Harbor Report: My interview with fuel dock attendant Jim Tyler

July 26, 2012|By Len Bose
  • Jim Tyler
Jim Tyler (Daily Pilot )

Each year I like to stop by and interview one of the ferry boat operators or fuel dock attendants, so I can get a different perspective from someone who is on the harbor five days a week.

This summer I noticed Jim Tyler working as a fuel dock attendant at Island Marine Fuel.

I recalled first meeting Jim when he was sailing in the Balboa Yacht Club's junior program. I later sold his parents a Catalina 30. Jim, 22, of Costa Mesa, attends Cal State Fullerton.

The family sold the Catalina 30 and now have a CHB 45 trawler, in which you will find Jim placing "wax on and wax off" a couple times a year for his parents.

Here is my Q & A with him:

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Question: How should a boat approach and leave the fuel dock with the tide, fenders, dock lines?

Answer: First off, Island Marine Fuel is a "full service" station. No dock lines or fenders are needed. Just pull up and our crew will take care of everything. Going against the tide when approaching the dock is the easiest way in most situations.

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The wind also needs to be taken into account when landing at any dock. Powerboats tend to leave the dock stern out, or backing out, since most have two engines and they can handle better this way.

Sailboats, on the other hand, like to leave the dock bow first (although it is always up to the captain of the vessel). We do our best to make it as easy as possible, and give our opinion during the busy season when there is little room for error due to waiting customers floating off the dock.

Q: What should boaters do while refueling. Should they turn off everything, tell the attendant how much fuel they need, etc?

A: The first thing we need to know is where the fuel fills are, and what type of fuel the vessel needs. All engines should be turned off while refueling, especially gasoline boats. When we are done pumping, proper ventilation is also very important. Blowers should be on prior to starting the boat again.

While refueling, the biggest problem we run into at the dock is smoking. Since Island Marine Fuel is a mini-mart as well as a "gas station," many people don't make realize that they are pulling into a gas station. I'm sure that if they were asked if they pull into a station while they are smoking, the unanimous response would be, "No, of course not."

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