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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Dismal Swamp is NOT Dismal! NC, soon to be VA

Last night we rocked and rolled in Elizabeth City, NC at the City Dock. With a South wind the rocking did not stop all night. Fortunately we were stern into the dock which made us bow into the wind and with our 34,000 pounds and a deep keel, we did not rock as much as most of the other boats.

The bridge over the Pasquotank River is adjacent to the City Dock, but opens only at 830AM, 11AM, 130PM and 330PM. Takes a bit of planning, but like with everything thing else, nice people make it happen. In Elizabeth City nice people abound. Ruth called the bridge and they agreed to open when we were ready. (Perhaps because it is Saturday?)

Good news! The bridge is open!

Doesn't get any prettier than the Dismal far anyway! Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
The boys and I had gone for an early morning walk and had crossed over the bridge. We could see the other side of the bridge was tranquil. After High Spirits and Crawdad crossed under the bridge we breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the peaceful ride along the Dismal Swamp.

High Spirits and a Kady Krogen approach the lock.
Digging for the Dismal Swamp began in 1793 and the canal opened in 1805. The original surveying of the property was done by George Washington. Digging was done by hand with most of the labor by slaves hired from nearby landowners. The slaves became so familiar with the Swamp, that the Swamp later became a haven for run away slaves.The Dismal Swamp remains the oldest operating waterway in the US.

The reflection in the water was incredible!

There are two locks each with a bridge along the Dismal Swamp. The lock tender is also the bridge tender. When he completed the lock up (8 feet), he drove 1/2 mile to the bridge and opened the bridge.  Tomorrow we will pass through another bridge, then an 8 foot lock down.

Finally, entering the lock.

This is the light at the entrance to the lock. Most locks have a red/green light to indicate when it is safe to enter. Often boats are too far away to see the light at all, let alone the color!

Ruth is doing a fine job tending the lines as we ride the 8 feet up the lock. Without the lock system on the Dismal Swamp, there would not be enough water for boats to pass. The depth is only about 6 feet.

This is the Freedom 40 that was at the City Dock in Elizabeth City.
Tonight we are enjoying the Visitors Center which is along the waterway. The Visitors Center is also along the highway! A free dock without power is available and we are tied along with High Spirits and two sailboats, one a double masted Freedom 40. The generator is humming while I write the blog, so on we go!

Tomorrow we will complete the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway and stay in Norfolk, VA. The charts and cruisebooks will be put to bed and a new adventure begins on the Chesapeake Bay with new charts and cruise guides.

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