Now that we’re back in Belhaven in mid January, there are both really nice days and really cold days. So we decide to stay put for a while, while we enjoy the town and the friendliness of the marina staff. Gregg Baker has been spectacular throughout this whole time since we docked here and it will be like leaving an old friend when we eventually do shove off. Since we will definitely be here for a while, we can do some Amazon.com shopping and have the products delivered here to the marina.
So we buy a new vee berth faucet (found out it was cracked during the lay-over), new LED light strips for the salon fixtures, new upholstery for the salon couches, and Tracy does some research into a potential vendor for getting some repairs to our dinghy. We have also lowered the dinghy into the water and she miraculously fires right up after sitting on the Sundeck roof since November 1st! This will give Tracy more opportunities for fishing now that the dinghy is back in the water.
This marina is a lot like our home port in the sense that we’re tied up on a fixed dock and once we step off the boat, there’s an entire yard of grass. So my morning walks with Frankie start becoming his morning marathons. I start to notice that he has a good sense of staying on the lawn area of the marina and the parking lot out to the street is off limits, so after a few days, I get brave and take Frankie off the leash and let him run free. He stays within the yard area and doesn’t venture out into the street. We often play with a small orange ball that I toss and he chases down, then returns to me with ball in mouth. Only issue with him is he’ll never bring to ball back to me, he brings t back to the area where I’m standing, but he always drops it off about 10 feet away from me. This game runs the entire time we’re here at Belhaven except the two days with 4 inches of snow on the ground. That gets in the way of tossing a ball for retrieval!
With lots of time here, we get to experience most every restaurant, some more than once. Gingerbread bakery is a nice spot for breakfast and/or lunch and they serve breakfast all open hours. Fish Hook Café is a nice lunch spot with lunch buffets every day. Spoon River Artworks is a fancy dinner spot with delicious desserts. Farm Boys is Belhaven’s version of a walk-in and order, but eat outside or elsewhere type of restaurant, but it is the restaurant with the most open hours of any in town. They serve breakfast sandwiches, lunches and dinners from there little spot right across the street from the marina and since we’re here right in the middle of duck hunting season, this little place does a great job feeding the hunters as they come into town on their boats, dock at the town docks, and walk right up to Farm Boys for eats. The Tavern at Jacks Neck is a nice dinner location with a friendly atmosphere and delicious specials. Georgie’s Sports and Oyster Bar is the place to go for seafood in town. Oysters are schucked right in front of you at the bar and placed on your plate. They also do a delicious ribeye. All these restaurants are walking distance from the marina, but out by the Food Lion there are two more decent restaurants, Highway 55 is a theme restaurant with sit down and take out meals. The wait staff is real friendly and goes out of their way to remember you and your favorite foods. The other is Vinnie’s Pizza and Subs and they have really decent pizza with a hand made soft crust.
When we first got back here on Thursday, Jan. 12th with the rental car, I had to return it to Enterprise in Wake Forest on Friday, Jan 13th. So I had made arrangements with AJ Hedgepeth to meet me at the Enterprise and drive me back to Belhaven. He was coming down here to go hunting that weekend anyway, so it really wasn’t that much out of his way, but when we thanked him for the ride, he said, “I’ll give family a ride to California if they need one”.
So before we said goodbye to him we took him to Georgie’s Sports and Oyster Bar for dinner. We sat at the bar, had oysters schucked right in front of us and had a delicious meal. Four days later on Tuesday, we went to the Gingerbread Bakery for breakfast and during our walk back to the marina, there was a cute little woman’s clothing store called Southern Tuck that Tracy spotted and we walked in. She was looking at fashions and the clerk was helping her out. In the meantime, I kept looking at the clerk and thinking that she looked familiar to me. It suddenly dawned on me, that she looked a lot like the waitress at Georgie’s from 4 nights ago, so I asked her if she had any sisters. She replied that she had three sisters, to which I asked if any were local and she said two were in town. So I told here that it had to be one of her sisters that worked in Georgie’s because that waitress looked just like this clerk. She looks at me and says, “that was me. I’m Laura Baker and I own Grorgie’s with my husband George. This is my daughters store and I help her out a few days a week.” That certainly cleared up the familiarity for me.
Later that week a local resident cruised into the marina with his Grand Banks 36 and docked it near the haul out trolley. He was preparing for a potential sale and the purchasers were bringing their surveyors to the marina the next day for the pre-purchase survey. Jim is a local, but he’s originally from Islip, Long Island and he is a really friendly guy. I helped him a very little while he was tying up his vessel, but he appreciated the help so much, that he offered us one of his cars to use during our stay, so we could go out if necessary. It was a very generous gesture and turned out to be needed when Frankie developed worms and we had to bring him to a local (20 miles away) veterinarian. Southern (displaced from up north) hospitality at its finest! EWWWWWWWW -tc
While we stayed here for 3 ½ weeks we watched a few boats come in and go back out the next day. Each time a boat was coming in to dock, I’d give Gregg a hand with the lines. This was just my way of keeping a bit busy during our stay. We met another couple that came in and they are AGLCA members on the same schedule as us. They plan to linger here on the southeastern coast until spring then, head back north on the start of the Great Loop. We exchanged boat cards and we’ll look for them once we start cruising again.
Most of our days here are spent with some fun, some dog running and some minor chores aboard Kailani. As we said previously, we bought new LED light strips for the salon, new upholstery covering for the salon couches, a new vee berth faucet, etc. so we fill in our days with these projects. Tracy studies up on upholstering tricks and tackles the couches while I re-light the salon and install the new faucet. Now, Kailani is about 99% LED lights and it will definitely be a savings in power consumption, which will be helpful during anchorages. I believe the only lights that are not LED are the bulbs in the oven and refrigerator.
We also make some preliminary plans for some of our cruising for the remainder of the season. We have made firm plans to meet our son Nick and his family in Savannah during their school vacation in April, but other than that, we are free to travel south to wherever we’d like. During the planning process, Tracy finds a store called Offshore Rafting in Arapahoe, NC and we Google it to find that its fairly close to Oriental. Since we’ve been interested in some repairs to our dinghy, Tracy reaches out to them and we are told that if we can get down to Oriental, they can pick up our dinghy from there and make the necessary repairs and return it to us. So its settled, our first next stop will be Oriental, NC. I reach out to the AGLCA Harbor Host in Oriental, Mac Ernest and he gets us set up with Oriental Harbor Village Marina and we set a plan to cruise there on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018.
So on the morning of Tuesday, February 6th, we complete all final pre-departure items, Tracy dons the Captain’s hat and we get ready to leave Belhaven Marina for Oriental Harbor Marina. Tracy fires up both the port and starboard engines and after the engines have been idling for a while she hollers out from the helm that there’s no oil pressure on the starboard engine! She shuts down the engines and we start to look for potential issues that would cause this. We checked the engine temperatures before shutting down and confirmed that both engines were running at the same temperature and that sort of tells us that we at least have oil pressure, we just don’t have a reading. If there wasn’t any oil pressure, the engine should have been running much hotter that the port engine. Also, the low oil pressure alarm was not going off. So we believe we have oil pressure, we just don’t have a gauge reading to prove it!
Gregg is now alongside Kailani and he helps us try to diagnose the issue. We go thru all the steps of changing over the gauges from the working gauge on the port side to the nonworking gauge on the starboard side and still get no pressure. Next we check the voltage at the gauges on the sender wire and the working gauge gets 6 volts while the non-working gauge gets no voltage. So by process of elimination, we figure we have a non-working oil pressure sender unit down in the engine room. We call the local Caterpillar dealer and order the sender for overnight delivery. They’re in Beaufort, NC but it will be sent out of Atlanta, GA. It really surprises me, but by 2 pm on Wednesday, the UPS guy shows up with the new oil pressure sender! We install it fully expecting that the pressure gauge will now work properly and boy are we surprised when nothing happens! The gauge still doesn’t move from zero. We decide to sleep on it and check everything again on Thursday.
Somewhere along the way here, Nick gets a wicked splinter under his nail… rather like Japanese torture. Being a wooden splinter, it had to be dealt with asap because those things can get nasty infected fast! Lucky for him I was on the scene and he bravely allowed me to dig at it and get it out. It was a monster, from the tip almos to the quick. He lived.- tc
Thursday morning and I’m up on the flybridge lying on my back under the helm checking everything out. Tracy has suggested that it may be something as simple as a fuse, so Gregg brings over his Fluke multi-tester and every fuse under the helm checks out properly. So now we’re starting to think that we never ruled out the home run wire from the sender to the gauge. So we run a jumper wire from the starboard engine home run over to the port engine sender. Next we turn the ignition key to ‘run’ on the starboard engine to get voltage to the gauge, then fire up the port engine and the starboard oil pressure gauge immediately goes up to 65 psi, so the gauge and home run wire both check out as functioning. Next we take the port engine sender off and re-install it on the starboard engine. We’ve all along gone with the conception that we’re really getting oil pressure, we’re just not getting a reading. Only problem with that is its purely theory and not gauge-proven. So by installing the functioning sender in the starboard engine, we should prove that the new sender is ‘out of the box defective’. Low and behold, that’s exactly what happens ad we fire up the starboard engine and show 65 psi on the gauge. So I call the rep back and tell him we got a defective sender. After describing all the steps we took to verify a bad sender, he says he will order up a replacement and send it overnight to us. Hopefully, the next sender will not be defective. So now we have a completely functioning starboard engine and the port engine will work, but without a sender installed, oil could splatter out all over the engine. So I decide to re-install the supposedly broken original sender since the new one has been put back in it’s box ready to ship back to Caterpillar. After installing the N/G sender, I figure, just for luck’s sake, lets start the port engine and see if anything happens. I go up to the helm, fire up the port engine and suddenly, the gauge springs to life and registers 65 psi of oil pressure! And this is coming from a gauge that two days earlier, wouldn’t show anything. Sometimes, all that’s needed for a fix is to un-install then a few days later, re-install the same parts and suddenly, they come back to life. Here we’ve dodged another bullet, since a broken oil pump replacement would be astronomical in time and expense, both of which, we’d like to avoid spending right now. So after a three-day delay, our plans to depart for Oriental are back on for Friday morning. I think I’ll make sure we’re at least half way to Oriental before I call the Dock Master again at Oriental.
It will be somewhat sad to pull away from the familiar docks of Belhaven Marina. We’ve gotten very comfortable here and everyone feels like long time friends so quickly. At least we know two things: 1) we will definitely stop back here on the way north and re-visit these friends and 2) as we travel the Great Loop, we expect we will experience many times this feeling of friendship and immediate relationships, so this test has become sort of like our proving grounds. There will be many times where we will meet new friends and we’ll be tempted to stay longer, lured by hospitality, beautiful surroundings, etc. But we’ll have to learn to pull away and continue the journey to meet newer and equally as friendly people along this great adventure.