Thursday, September 29, 2011

Great Dismal Swamp Canal

Yesterday, we did the sightseeing thing in Norfolk and had an enjoyable day. We did a small run on “The Tide” which is basically a 3 car transit train, from one end of the city to the other. When rounding one corner it looked like the Battleship USS Wisconsin was coming straight down the street at us. Man what an impressive sight.

These things are monsters as compared to the other destroyers. The Wisconsin was built and served in WW2, Korean War, Vietnam and was the first US Navy vessel to fire a cruise missile into Iraq during the Gulf War.
There is a nice museum here on the waterfront with tours of the ship.

This morning we got up early and departed Norfolk for the Great Dismal Swamp Canal……. Even though Jan would rather we went down the Virginia Cut, as it’s a little wider and much deeper. I on the other hand wanted to escape the never ending bridge openings and tug & barge traffic.

Well, as we passed the last bridge in the Elizabeth River, I saw a little brown sign pointing to the Great Dismal Swamp and made a hard right. I only recognized the sign because of Scott’s blog. So, before Jan had anything to say, I had swung the boat hard to starboard and into this very narrow area of swampland and continued down towards the locks. Boy was she mad…… but too late now….. it’s too narrow to turn around and we only had 0.5 feet of clearance under our keel.

Well, what a great decision this turned out to be. We arrived at the Deep Creek Locks a little early and had to anchor until they started to open to take us in. The lock operator was a fantastic tour guide.

As you can see, we’re about half way to Marathon with about 1100 miles to go. Told you it was a long trip.

After clearing the lock we entered this magical kingdom called the Great Dismal Swamp Canal and followed it for 28 miles where we arrived at the North Carolina Visitors Center……. And they had wonderful docks right on the canal. We only had a few bumps on over saturated logs that had sunk to the bottom but generally had about 7-8 feet of water the entire way.

Oooops……. There’s another overhead branch of a tree that we nearly took out with the shrouds. Let me explain here folks…….. the canal is basically a cut ( that was supervised by George Washington and started in 1793 and completed in 1805. It was dug by hand by slaves.) through a swamp that is about 50 feet wide and 45 miles long. They call it “the ditch” because that is what it is.

The water is so tanic in colour that it stains the bow of the boat with the ICW Mustache.

However, this cut is very magical and beautiful. Today , it was in the mid 80’s and we enjoyed the sunshine.

So, as the sign says…… “WELCOME TO NORTH CAROLINA
We arrived at the visitors center about 2pm today and decided to stay the night with Dick & Kate Robinson who we basically followed all the way here. The dock is very nice and Jan can just step right off the boat and onto the dock. I went over to the visitor center on the other side of the pontoon bridge where the young lady described how an alligator was run over last week by a car and that there are cottonmouth rattlers in the woods, etc.

Jan’s afraid that something is going to crawl across the deck tonight and fall down through our hatch and onto the bed.

So, here we are at the dock at the Visitor Center. We had a nice supper at a picnic table beside the canal with more new friends, Dick and Kate.

Tomorrow morning we leave and run through the pontoon bridge and southern locks and may stop in Elizabeth City for the night.

Oh yeah……. Been through the Dismal Swamp and got the ball caps !!

Sept 30th- Dismal Swamp to Alligator River

Today was the best part of travelling so far. 80 degrees and sunny. This morning we left the Dismal Swamp Canal and headed down the last locks before heading down Turner’s Cut.

This part is absolutely breathtaking and far outways the dismal swamp section. The water, to Jan’s delight is about 14 ft deep and a bit wider. The wildlife was everywhere……. Turtles, snakes, birds, …. You name it and we saw it.

This is much more like motoring through a Cyprus swamp than we’ve seen so far. There is a constant layer of green swamp leaves and huge pines and Cyprus trees. We’re the only human beings for miles.

The whole family is here today!

Jan tried to run this poor guy down as it was swimming for it’s life…… probably could have killed you with one bite!

We passed under the bridge at Elizabeth City and as it was only noon we decided to cross Albemarle Sound and down to the Alligator River….. a distance of about 25 miles.

Tonight we’re at the Alligator River Marina and tomorrow it’s off to Moorehead City.

No comments:

Post a Comment