The Back Door Marine Supply Guy

April 15, 2014:

After our leisurely stroll through the Dali museum in downtown St. Pete that morning, it was time to focus on some boat chores that afternoon.  We were in the market for a portable oil change kit.  While we certainly hadn’t planned on motoring as much as we had already on the trip, you know our philosophy on plans.  With the various mishaps we had experienced with the sails (losing the main halyard and the failure of our Jenny swivel shackle – both of which we had decided were the product of operator error – poor boat!), we’d had to motor more on the trip than we would have liked.  But, that’s what she’s got a motor for I guess, so …

The manual for our engine recommends changing the oil every 50 hours.  We knew we were going to cross that threshold soon, so we needed to have a pump and canister ready when the time came.  While we have an oil change kit at home, that thing is a bulky, messy, metal beast that looks like an offspring of the Tin Man:


Face it Man, he’s definitely yours.


We keep it in a big rubbermaid container because everything in it is covered in thick, sticky oil.  It just wasn’t an item we really wanted to pack on the boat for a month-long trip to the Keys.  But, we now found ourselves in need.  Phillip had been researching and talking to some marina supply folks in the area to see if we could find a local shop that carried a portable oil change kit.  We were either going to have to pick one up there in St. Pete or down in Ft. Myers for sure.  The cleanliness of the oil in the engine easily trumps the inconvenience of a big oil change tub on the boat.

Luckily, Phillip found a local marine supply shop in St. Pete that had one.  And, since we had the afternoon off after our journey through the incredible world of Dali, we decided to venture out and get it.  And, as it always seems, our ‘venture’ quickly became an ADventure.

As you know, we traveled to the sensational city of St. Pete by boat.  Which means, when we venture away from the boat, we have to travel by foot, bike or cab for supplies and provisions.  Sadly, Google maps steered us wrong that day and we ended up walking about eight miles to and fro across the city searching for an Auto Zone that no longer seemed to exist (at least not in the prior location).  And, ignorant of the monumental trek we were about to make, this dumb mate wore a cute little pair of summer flip-flops that weren’t really up for the task:



I know, cute right?  Perfect for the museum, noooot so much for the Million Mile March.  These dogs were barking!  About mid-way through the trek, I finally just kicked them off and resigned to sport some wicked Wal-Mart feet for the rest of the venture.

And, don’t pretend you don’t know what those are …


Yeah, I’m not afraid.


But, we did finally make it to the marine supply store.  Wait … I’m sorry.  Warehouse.  The Marine Supply Warehouse.  Yep.  There it is:


A small door in a duplex with a sign that read:


Well, the Captain wasn’t afraid.


He marched right in there.


And, man, when they say warehouse … what they really mean is … 500 square feet and three aisles:

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It was no West Marine, but they did have the oil change kit we needed and plenty of other boat goodies.  And, while the Back Door Marine Supply Guy that ran the shop was pretty knowledgeable,


he’s one of those types that will always answer your question with a question:

Customer:  “Hello, sir.  We need an oil filter, a Puralator L30001.  Do you have one?”

Supply Guy:  “What are you going to use it for?”

Customer:  “To change the oil on our boat.”

Supply Guy:  “What kind of engine do you have?”

You see what I’m saying.  It’s like you have to answer his three magical questions before he will grant you the wish of the product you’d like to purchase.

But, nice guy – after the inquisition – and he did hook us up with the oil change kit we needed, so he’s tops in my book.  After the epic pilgrimage to his back door, though, it was clear there would be no more walking for this crew.  The Captain called us a cab, which arrived a prompt forty-five minutes later (speedy!) and we hitched a ride back to the other side of town to pick up the oil and filter and some other provisions for the next passage.


“Auto Zone, please.”

Once we made it back to the boat, we were pleased to find the new oil pump fit nicely in a locker under the vberth.  No more big, oily rubbermaid container for this crew.  We now travel full-time with oil change kit in tow.  So, the St. Pete pilgrimage really paid off.  We checked the radar and forecast for the following day and decided we would head back out into the Gulf tomorrow and try to make the approximate 24-hour run down to Ft. Myers, this time, hopefully, without any sail issues.

We ventured out one last time to the downtown strip in St. Pete for some drinks and dinner.


I ordered up the namesake “Tryst” cocktail at the Tryst Gastro Lounge, a fun, up-scale contemporary bar on the downtown strip.  Both the drinks and the atmosphere were superb.

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We then enjoyed a hearty St. Pete last supper at the British Tavern, The Moon Under Water, which began, as any good British meal should, with a stout painkiller and a beer,

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We then devoured a tabbouleh and lamb starter,


and polished it all off with a shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.  This crew was going to be full (stuffed actually!) and well-rested for the trip tomorrow.

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And, in case you didn’t know, a fun aside about the origin of the name “Moon Under Water”:


Accept the Queen’s Shilling by “fair means or foul” and you’re recruited into the British Army?  And, they bury it in the bottom of a drink?!  I would have been a goner for sure.  I always make it to the bottom of a drink!

After several ‘bottoms,’ we made our way back to the boat and tucked in for the night. Having had our fill of downtown fun in St. Pete and feeling extremely lucky to have stumbled upon such a quick and affordable fix for our furling Jenny (thanks again Steve!), we were excited to get back underway.

“Phillip, do you hear that?”

No, what is it?”

“It’s the Gulf calling.  She wants us back.”

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