This last Wednesday morning I jumped in my dingy at the Balboa Yacht Club and proceeded up the bay in search for a story, the fog was tick this morning with a rather high humidity level that was quickly burning away to a perfect summer day on our harbor.
My mind was wandering from the information I had been receiving this week while attending “The Coalition to Preserve Newport Harbor PAC” meetings on Tuesday’s at 8:00 Am at the John Dominis building located at 2901 W Coast Hwy. I must have been having a flashback because it felt like I was in a Navy Seals team inflatable boat preparing for a landing on the enemy beach. While making my way through the harbor I wondered if I was going to make it through this next assault of tideland permit fee increases. Maybe it would be one of my teammates that would get it? I glanced over at the bait barge, noticed the number of out of town people experiencing our harbor for the first time by renting an electric boat or stand up paddle boards from our harbor rental company’s, looked over to our two fuel docks. This flashback was really not taking me to a place where I wanted to start my day. The point I am trying to make is another call to get involved and make your voices heard by attending the “The Coalition to Preserve Newport Harbor PAC” meetings or our monthly Harbor Commission meetings. Review our City’s web page at www.newportbeachca.gov , contact our City Council members and talk about what type of harbor you would like to see with your friends. If we just stand by and watch, our grandchildren could end up with a duck pond with condos built around it.
Time to think positive and I can think of know better person to talk to than Matt Cox the operator of the Hill’s boat fuel tanker. His official title is “Licensed fuel tank engineer” and Matt is one of “the good old boys” of our harbor. He attended Harbor View Elementary School where he first met the owner of the fuel dock Garry Hill in the 4th grade. Jump ahead some 30 years latter and Gary noticed Matt working the shore boats in Catalina and offered Matt the job to run the tanker. Matt accepted and has been on the job close to 20 years now. I first met Matt about 15 years ago and he is one of harbors kindest, most professional people that I have ever met on the water. He always greets you as if you are his best friend and he always keeps his promises. “The best part of this job is meeting all the characters in our harbor, like you Len” Matt told me.
He delivery’s diesel fuel to about 10-12 boats each day Monday-Friday. His tanker holds 2,620 gallons of fuel, the tanker was built out of steel in 1947 by The Joe Beek Company. The same company that built our harbors the auto ferry’s. The Hill’s purchased the tanker some 30 years ago and have kept her in perfect condition. Matts routine while pulling up to a vessel is to note the tide and current, tie the tanker up properly, deploy his fuel lines, inspect the fuel vents of the vessel he is filling, then proceed in fueling the vessel. One of his biggest concerns is if there is a leak in his customers fuel lines and he fills the bilge with fuel. “This has only happened to me about once every ten years” Matt replied. One of my secrets are to place my ear next to the fuel vents and cup my hand around the vent so I can hear the fuel going into the tank. He also noted that understanding your boats system makes his job a lot easier. Knowing which fuel tank is feeding the generator and how much fuel each tank will take makes it easier for our harbor fuel operators to keep fuel from over flowing fuel into the bay. I also asked Matt what was the best way to rotate new fuel into the boat? “Once you understand how much fuel you are burning I recommend only caring enough fuel for your trip and a reserve of about of 1/3 of your tank. For example, if you hold 400 gallons, which weighs 3000 pounds, and are only going to Catalina there is reason to carry all that weight. Just carry what you need and some in reserve, then give me a call or just text me on your return. I will have you boat ready for you before your next scheduled departure” Matt explained. You can reach Matt by calling Hills boat service at (949) 675-0740 or you can call him directly at (949) 795-3483. He’s a great guy and has never done me wrong.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.