Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cruising the Dismal Swamp Canal

Open Sesame.
After a very hearty artery-clogging breakfast at Colonial Restaurant (where all the locals eat), MicMac requested a 9 a.m. opening of the Elizabeth City bridge and slowly meandered up the rest of the Pasquotank River. It's a pleasant hybrid of the Chickahominy and Waccamaw rivers. The only things in abundance (in addition to water and trees) were mistletoe and turtles. We only saw one water moccasin (identified because it swims with most of its body above water), one cormorant, one osprey, and one fishing boat.

After about 18 miles, the waterway got very narrow, thanks to George Washington, William Byrd (of Westover Plantation fame), and some guy named Turner for whom Turner Cut is named. The other boats on the Elizabeth City docks left early and we had the lower section of the infamous Dismal Swamp Canal all to ourselves. Kind of eerie and serene.
Tranquil Dismal Swamp

This 22 mile canal is the oldest continually operating canal in the United States. Now a National Historic Landmark, a National Civil Engineering Landmark, and on the National Register of Historic Places, the Dismal Swamp includes a new visitors’ center (that we visited after tying up to their dock for the night) and is part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program
The South Mills lock opened (and closed) just for MicMac. The lock we had gone through in the Virginia Cut on our way south had a minimal few inches of difference. But the water level in this one changes about 8 feet. As we floated out of the lock, two powerboaters who didn’t know about timed openings arrived.

“Dismal” it is not—unless you come here in buggy hot July or August. But hey, it’s upper 90s right now. A breeze makes all the difference. I wonder what it was like when George surveyed it in 1763 (so they say) or when the hundreds of slaves cut and dug through here for 12 years, ending in 1805. Now the Corps of Engineers keeps it dredged and free of flotsam and fallen trees.
South Mills Lock opens for MicMac.

Gentle Bens
There are only two other boats with us on this free dock. Free is OK, but AC would be great on this first really hot day of our trip. Tonight we’ll watch for black bears after dark. Pete is cooking mahi mahi tonight and I understand that they like that, and the Visitor Center log indicated that some had been spotted here this week. NOT these friendly chaps.

1 comment:

  1. Hey MicMax, It's Bum'sRest. We just pulled in to the welcome center in the Dismall Swamp. Sheet Music went to coin jack and Virgina Cut. Meet up with them later on.
    We heard from Mystic Rose that we just missed you and you were asking about us. We are leaving in the morning and staying on the free dock when we come out of the Dismal Swamp. See what the weather is doing. Maybe we'll catch up with you. Keep Safe, Patti and Wayne and Sailor the dog.