After spending some quality time with family and friends both here in North Carolina and home in New England, we’re finally back onboard Kailani after a month away. We arrive at Belhaven Marina at 11:00 in the morning after a short 33 mile drive from Plymouth, NC and Greg Baker meets us to say hello. He had been checking Kailani almost daily for us while we were home and the last time we spoke with him he let us know that Kailani had finally succumbed to the extremely unusual cold temperatures of the ‘Bombo-Genesis’. He had noticed that the bilge pumps were running and pumping out water that should not have been necessary, so he immediately went into the engine room and noticed that both the port and starboard raw water strainers for the engine cooling had cracked and were leaking seawater into the bilge. He closed the raw water thru hull intakes and started working on getting matching replacements for the plexiglass baskets. His supplier in Norfolk had them in stock and they were to arrive at the marina by Thursday, the same day as us. So we knew what our schedule would be upon arrival, we would be changing out the cracked strainer baskets.
Since the parts hadn’t shown up yet, we decided to unload the completely filled rental car and get our personal belongings and Frankie loaded back onto Kailani. We also had time while waiting for the arrival, so Tracy went into the engine room and I passed down a wet/dry vacuum hose to her and she cleaned the engine room of all the remaining standing water (which was a good 7 fills of the vacuum). Shortly thereafterm the parts showed up and Greg came down to the boat for the repair project. While the changeover was ongoing, Tracy turned on the freshwater pump to check out the freshwater system and we had two failure spots/leaks. One leak was in the engine room at the valve feeding raw water into the water purifier and the second spot was the vee birth faucet shot water all over the room when turned on. The valve in the water purifier line was an easy fix as the valve was a compression fitting, but the head faucet will have to be replaced and we’ll have to order that. Unbelievably, all the rest of the fresh water system survived including the transom shower!
After completing the repairs to the raw water intake bowls and the water line compression fitting, we went to the flybridge and started both big Caterpillar engines. They started on the first turn and idled to full temperature with no other visible issues, so we felt very fortunate. Next we had to test the generator system, so we opened the lazarette compartment to do a quick visual on the generator and after deciding that all looked good, we tried to turn over the generator, but we weren’t so lucky with that, since all we got was clicking from a dead starter battery. This will be an easy fix by hooking up a charger overnight and re-charging the battery. To complete this story, I took the charger off on Friday morning and the generator started right up on its own and ran smoothly as well.
So while Kailani was sitting in the water down here all by her lonesome freezing, but surviving the ordeal, we had a tremendous time heading back home for the holidays. Going way back to Friday, December 15,2017 we got picked up at the marina by our nephew, AJ. He works Sunday to Thursday, so Fridays are a day off for him, plus he was coming down to Belhaven to check out the family hunting camp and pay some utility bills in preparation for the upcoming duck season. He picked us up, we loaded all our belongings and Christmas gifts into his Tahoe, said our goodbye’s to Greg and left. AJ had a plan to give us a tour of their camp and take us to lunch before heading back to their home. So after he showed us their hunting camp, which is only 15 minutes from Belhaven Marina, we got back in the Tahoe and he said we were going to Engelhard for lunch at a great place called Martelle’s Feed House. As we started driving I noticed a sign that said Engelhard 35 miles and I said “is that where we’re going for lunch, 35 miles away?” AJ said, “It’s just around the corner”, so off we went to Martelle’s. By the way, this is 35 miles in the direction opposite from our final destination for the day in Louisburg, NC. Well we must confess, the lunch buffet was pretty tasty and since we really don’t live by schedules anymore, the extra miles were worth it. We also did a little sight seeing around Lake Mattamuskeet and stopped in at the visitor’s center for some additional information about the wildlife around this 40,000 acre lake. Then we headed for Louisburg to see my sister Lisa and brother-in-law Art Hedgepeth for the weekend and to pick up the rental car from Enterprise in Wake Forest.
On Saturday morning, we took a ride from Louisburg into Wake Forest where we did some shopping for Frankie at the local Petco, then headed over to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car location where they were holding a reservation for us. After picking up the car, we all headed back to Louisburg for the rest of the day. Tracy and I decided that once we had the car, we sort of wanted to start heading back home, so we made plans to leave Louisburg on Sunday morning. We planned for a roundabout route that would avoid the big traffic patterns of Baltimore and Washington, DC by heading up to Hershey Pennsylvania.
So Sunday morning, we re-loaded the compact rental car with all our belongings, said our goodbyes to Lisa, Art and AJ (Nicole was not home this weekend), and headed out for the five-hour trip to Hershey. Along the way, Tracy made reservations at the Hampton Inn in Hershey and we checked in at 4 pm. Tracy set a plan for Monday at the Hershey Chocolate Factory that included a Trolley tour, a factory tour and a 3-D movie about hurricanes.
Monday started with the awesome Hampton Inn breakfast, then off to Hershey Park for the day. We both had fun and it was especially fascinating to us to learn of the tremendous success and resulting generosity of Milton Hershey. This one man created an entire city around his chocolate factory and then funded a $65,000,000 foundation that continues to flourish today with over 25 billion dollars, all from chocolate to positive influence without greed!
Tuesday morning we packed up the car after another great complimentary breakfast and headed back to the chocolate factory for some Christmas shopping, then home to Connecticut. As we drove into Danbury, I realized that this last five weeks, since November 7th is the longest span of time since college that I’ve been out of Connecticut. We enjoyed a two week honeymoon, and a few two week vacations, but this six plus weeks is by far the longest. And it will only get longer once we return to Kailani in January and stay out until late April!
It was really nice to step foot back in our house, even if it looks totally different, now that Kim is living there. By the way, Kim has graciously offered to vacate the premises so we could enjoy the house along with family and friends over this holiday. Thanks a ton, Kim! It’s now Tuesday, December 19th and we have less than a week to decorate the house and prepare for family on Christmas Eve, but the fireplace and the hot tub are both calling for us. So we balance our time between Xmas preparation, soaking in the hot tub, and relaxing in front of a roaring fire.
Christmas Eve we get to see our sons, daughters-in-law and Grandchildren as we have a nice dinner and share some presents in front of the Christmas tree and fire. Even Damian is home from college in Louisiana, so its great to see him. The kids make a big mess, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re spending time with family. The evening ends too quickly, but the kids must get home to prepare for their own visits from Santa Claus. Also, this will be the first time in a long time that we have snow in the forecast for overnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so we should be going to bed with green/brown lawns and waking up to new fallen snow. In fact, the snow comes in the amount of about four inches and so, for Christmas Day, we delay our trip to Massachusetts for our visit with Linda and Harland. Christmas Day for Tracy and I then becomes a day of snowblowing, house cleaning, hot tubbing, and fire chatting! What a perfect way to spend a day.
On of our gifts to the kids is to take them all to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Hartford Stage Company, then a nice family dinner out at a restaurant (no-clean-up). So the Tuesday right after Christmas, we get to spend another nearly full day with the entire family. The play is done very well, the restaurant is a good selection and afterwards, I get to go to the International Skating Center in Simsbury with Vic, Stephanie, Blaine, Tara and Charlee. More family time, more memories, and more fun!
Saturday is the annual Civitillo family holiday get together that Vic and Stephanie have been hosting for the list five or so years. It’s a nice time to see my brothers, sister and their families. This particular year we have a few that can’t make it but we have a great time nonetheless and the food is awesome.
As we take a week to prepare for our departure, Tracy and I fall into our old winter routine of fires in the fireplace and hour-long sessions in the hot tub daily. We end up using all our wood and before leaving, we replace the pile with a very well seasoned cord of wood for Kim to enjoy.
For our drive back to Kailani, we plan a route that will take us through the Chesapeake Bay Area Bridge and Tunnel. So our first leg is home to Dover, Delaware, and our second leg is Dover to Plymouth, North Carolina. We used Hampton Inns in Dover and a Holiday Inn Express in Plymouth and both accommodations were clean, well-kept, included complimentary hot breakfasts and were pet-friendly for Frankie.
For now we aren’t making any firm plans to cruise further south. We’ll just enjoy the relaxing time here in Belhaven until the mood and weather cooperate for renewed cruising. Guess we’ll just have to continue to enjoy the spectacular sunsets here.