What might have been a quick stopover for fuel turned into a four day delay in Belhaven, NC. Since we left the Cohansey River to the sound of our fire/carbon monoxide alarm going off, we’ve  known we had a bit of an exhaust leak. Before the alarm confirmed our suspicions that exhaust was leaking into the cabin, Jon noticed his eyes watering and one night I had a killer headache.
During our stay in Solomon’s Island to wait out the weather, Jon crawled into the engine compartment and saw that two of the bolts holding the mixing elbow to the heat exchanger (the equivalent of the exhaust manifold in your car) were broken, and one could not be removed. After breaking several drill bits and an
easy-out, we again borrowed the marina’s bikes for a ride to the hardware store. Though the threads in the heat exchanger were stripped and the remaining bolts were barely hanging on, Jon was able to rig up a temporary fix to hold things together until we could get to a more ideal (cheap) place for repairs.  The other part of that temporary fix was staying out of the cabin while the engine was running. It seemed like everything was holding up and we were able to breathe freely until the engine suddenly started making an awful racket somewhere on the Alligator River. It wasn’t hard to imagine those bolts vibrating themselves loose, and soon my nose and growing nausea informed me that they had indeed.
The guidebook mentioned a marina with repair facilities in Belhaven that sounded promising and being far off the beaten path, we hoped affordable. Upon stopping for fuel and seeing the marina under construction and no sign of the promised repair facilities, we were feeling less than optimistic. But while fueling up, the dock master was very helpful in getting in touch with a couple mechanics so we decided to take a chance paying for a slip at the marina to see if any of his leads would come through. Jon crawled back into the engine compartment to survey the damage only to notice the engine mount that had been re-welded prior
to our purchasing the boat had broken again in another spot. In all likelihood the vibration from the engine had caused the exhaust issue and would cause more problems if we didn’t get it fixed.
By the next morning it was obvious that we were getting nowhere fast with the recommended mechanics, and what we really needed anyway was someone with welding equipment which neither of them had. Afraid that we might get sucked into waiting around for days while shelling out $45 a night, we thought we’d justify our expense and get some errands done with the help of the courtesy golf cart. Then we’d hit the road.
Apparently a town ordinance legalized the use of golf carts on the road, and while we were the only golf cart drivers on the streets of Belhaven that day, to our surprise no one gave us a second glance.
After some running around, we lucked out in a couple of ways when we took our propane tank to be refilled. First, there was no issue at all in filling our tank. As I suspected the previous failure was due to either the equipment or operator at the service station and not our tank. Secondly, the mechanic there knew of a machine shop down the road where we could get the engine mount welded while we waited, and
wouldn’t you know, he had to go there anyway and would give us a ride.
Later that afternoon with our upgraded engine mount installed, we moved ourselves over to the town’s
free dock.  From there we would await a shipment of replacement gaskets which we would need to reassemble the engine after Jon dismantled it for repairs. The next day Jon took care of the disassembly and carted Humpty Dumpty four miles down the road to the machine shop. (He found the collapsible wheely cart discarded on the street in New York City.) It would’ve been nice to take some photos of the carnage and Jon walking down the cracked sidewalk trailing his little homeless lady’s wheely cart, but he was really in no mood for a photo shoot.
 Our lonely boat on the free dock.
In the morning I baked some cookies to take to the service station where we picked up our package, and Jon went to pick up our freshly welded exhaust system. When the machine shop owner noticed Jon strapping metal to wheely cart and preparing to set back off into the cold, he offered Jon a ride home. Then what could have taken all the king’s horses and all the king’s life savings, took Jon just a couple of hours and $75 to put back together again.
While we spent our first day and a half in Belhaven feeling bitter about having been led astray by the guidebook and foolish for having motored out to the middle of nowhere when our boat was in need of repairs, in the end, thanks again to the kindness strangers and perhaps a little dumb luck, we left with a feeling of accomplishment and only good things to say about Belhaven, NC.

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