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.”

Hellooooo Dali!

April 14-15, 2014:

After our visit with Walter White and his ingenious meth–od for fixing our Jenny, we were ready to get out and do some more exploring in St. Pete.  There was some weather rolling through the Gulf that we knew we were going to have to wait out,


so we started planning our attack on the city!  Like I said, the mooring field in the North Vinoy Basin is pretty sweet.  It is maintained by the city, so showers, captain’s lounge and laundry facilities are just a short walk from the boat, and at $14/night, we were happy to spend some time having a ball on our ball!


There she is, nice and secure.  Always waiting on us! We decided to shower up and hit the town.  And, I have to say, thankfully, the showers at St. Pete are not too truck-stoppey.

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They had a massive fan blowing in the bathroom that could pretty much blow-dry a sheep dog!


It was awesome.  Just step out of the shower and *snap* you were dry.


Thumbs up for the fan!  I was a big fan!  (I know, I’m a comedic genius … you can thank me later) After working in the hot sun most of the day working on the Jenny, we decided a big, lavish Italian dinner was just the ticket.  We hit up Bella Brava for some amazing margherita pizza and chicken marsala.

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Not to mention an incredible bottle of Sangiovese.  A new wine for me, and the beginnings of what I’m sure will be a life-long addiction.  Sorry Phillip. But, he’s got a little addiction of his own …


Kilwin’s.  “Two chocolate turtles, please.” But, while we certainly enjoyed the dinner and wine and sweet treats as we strolled through town that night, what we were really looking forward to checking out in downtown St. Pete was the Dali Museum.


It was right there off the main downtown strip.  A complete shrine to one of the most significant artists of modern time, and it’s literally a five-block walk from our boat!


Have I said enough good things yet about mooring in St. Pete?  Well, it bears repeating … So, the next day, we set out for the Dali Museum, which was certainly a highlight of our trip.  Like many, I only knew him as the “melting clocks” guy going in,


but I was exposed to a mind-blowing array of massive (I mean 20 foot tall) paintings that Dali did that I found I could stand in front of and stare at for hours.  Seriously. The “Lincoln” painting really blew me away.  Up close, it’s big blocks and colors and a woman standing in front of a window, but then from 60 feet, it transforms into a portrait of Abe Lincoln.


I mean, how do you do that close-up?  I tried to imagine how many times Dali must have stepped off of his scaffolding, walked back 60 feet only to walk back toward his painting to make one little brush stroke.  His ability to create images from a distance was mind-boggling.  He was mind-boggling!


Dali was like a mad scientist.  Completely devoted to his craft, but just … out there.  We got to learn some interesting history on him while we were there.  My favorite was when he was expelled from the Art Institute.  Apparently, when he came in to take his ‘final exams’, he simply told his instructors they weren’t “smart enough to test him.”  Decidedly true — his talent was simply beyond comprehension.  But with that snide comment, they sent him packing.  Looking back on it, though, I’m not sure the man really needed the degree.  He seemed to do just fine without it.  I can’t say enough about his talents.  If you haven’t checked out a Dali museum or watched a documentary or learned anything about him other than the “melting clocks” bit, I highly recommend exploring further. The last one I’ll mention is the “Matadore” painting – Phillip and I’s favorite.  Again, another 20-or-so foot tall painting just littered with insane features.  Take it in:


First, I’ll ask if you can see the matadore (whose bust fills the full size of the frame but whose face and shoulders are made up of other individual items that, up close, do not compose a man’s face).  Amazing!  But, there were so many other aspects of this painting that amazed us when we really took the time to look at every small detail – the flies, the pond at the bottom with the sunbather, the tribute to Dali’s wife, Gala, in the upper left corner, the two capes of the matadore on his shoulders, (red and jeweled), not to mention the “invisible” dalmatian at the bottom:


Do you see it?

Yeah, let’s just throw that in there at the end, as if that’s not a complete mind-blowing painting all it’s own, it’s just a tiny little add-on at the bottom of this Dali masterpiece.  An after-thought, really.  The Matadore really stole the show for us. But, the museum itself was incredible, too.  Unique architecture and lighting.


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A wonderful spanish-inspired cafe by the gift shop, Cafe Gala (named after Dali’s wife and life-long muse):


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An aspiring heli-staircase leading up to the exhibits:

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A hedge maze by the garden:

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And, many other “melting” objects lying about, in tribute to Dali’s most notable work:


“Seating for two please, preferably in the non-melting section.”

And, they had a Warhol exhibit they were featuring while we were there that was really cool, too.  Warhol was intriguing to say the least.  Both artists lived and created in the extremes.  They were radicals.  They were rebels, and they pushed the boundaries of modern art.


I think I accurately captured his scowl!  

They had some great Warhol pieces on display, and you could even shoot your very own Warhol screen shots.  It was hard to hold still for that long, but the end result was pretty cool.  I had a few that turned out alright, considering the subject matter.

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In all, we had an amazing time at the Dali Museum.  Still one of the most visually-fascinating displays we experienced on the trip and certainly a highlight.  While stopping in St. Pete was not originally on the agenda, we were thankful, in the end, that things happened the way they did, because we will definitely go back.  Isn’t that always the case, though?  The wind just sort of takes you where you really need to go.

But, we stepped out of that surreal world into what seemed almost another.  The wind was howling and the rain whipped around us as we sprinted back to the boat.  It was clear we wouldn’t be doing any sailing that day.  We planned our passage for tomorrow when the weather was expected to lay down.  The rain cleared up that afternoon, and we decided to venture out to pick up a few boat items we needed for the trip.  But, we had no idea we would be going from one radical to another.  Dali in the morning, and the Back-Door Marine Supply Guy in the afternoon.  Just wait …