Distance Traveled: 40nm
Total Distance: 958.19
This morning we left the Hampton Public Piers at 735am with no wind, blue skies and 50F. It was 60F inside the boat. Once we got in the Elizabeth River, the winds picked up to 3-4 knots from the North. We did use the electric heater as we were getting ready to leave and the temp inside increased to 64F. One go my many layers. Phil saw the first dolphin of the trip about 755am and he was able to let out the head sail at 825am as the winds picked up to NW @ 10-12 knots.
|water in the Dismal Swamp - brown|
|first 3 boats on left in rush to meet girlfriends|
|Entering NC on Dismal Swamp|
|Welcome Center (rest stop) Sign|
|Changes at Dock in Dismal Swamp|
|Toasting being on the ICW|
We got out the champagne that Chet and Carole Slabinski had given us, and toasted to being on the ICW with other sailors there. S/V Serenity joined us as they went through the 130pm opening and then later as it was almost dark, a cataraman Katiewalk (I think) came in to dock. There was a total of 6 with the last 2 rafted off other boats. Phil and I went to bed early at about 930pm. It was cold so we had 2 quilts on the bed.
Saturday, Oct 23
Journey to Elizabeth City, NC
|Rest of boats at dock as we leave Dismal Swamp Welcome Ctr|
Phil and I left @ 720am before the others as we wanted to be able to go about 4.5 knots so if we hit anything, it would jar the boat as much. As we were motoring down, I cooked oatmeal for breakfast, as it was definitely a day for warm food. It turned out the we hit something only 3 more times and it wasn't nearly as hard as yesterday as we came up to the closed South Lock Bridge. We tied Changes up on the port side before the bridge to wait. I called the lock master and left a message letting him know that we and 5 other boats were here to go south. They have a schedule that any northbound boats go through the lock and then the bridge first at 830am and southbound traffic goes 30 min later. We must be lucky as the bridge opened at 844am and we asked the other boats to go through so we could be last. The catamaran was first as the largest vessel and everyone went through without a problem. By 855am we were entering the lock and soon after the gates were closing. There was a lot of talking and Riley, a 1 1/2yo standard poodle was running at top speed on the grass alongside the lock. The lockmaster has a miniature poodle that has free rein of the area, so the dogs were greeting each other. Riley wanted to play, but it turns out the other poodle didn't and made that well know to Riley with a series of sharp barks. Then the dogs were going over the lock bridge on top of the gates. It didn't take very much to get Riley back on his side of the lock and then the water started going down. The current as we were going down 12 feet was very strong pushing us against the wall. Phil and I had to sit down and push Changes off the wall with our legs as the fenders were getting crushed and moved that I was worried they wouldn't work. It wasn't too long and the current eased enough that we didn't have to push off. After the lock, the water depth ranged from 11-13 feet, so we weren't hitting objects. What a relief and then we joined a river and the depth ranged from 12 - 20 feet.
|Motoring down the Dismal Swamp|
I thought I would provide a little history of the Dismal Swamp that goes back over 200 years. Colonel William Byrd II of Virginia proposed the advantage of making a channel to transport good in 1728. He was the person responsible fore adding Dismal to the name of the swamp. Construction on the canal started in 1793 at both ends, at Deep Creek and Joye's Creek. Slaves dug the canal by hand and became so familiar with the Dismal Swamp that it became a haven for runaways. US 17 was opened in 1804 shortly before the full length of the canal opened in 1805. Good were transported on flat boats and log rafts that were manually poled or towed though until the Civil War when war took a toll as ships were sunk in the canal to block transport of goods. The late 1880-90's were bad times as the company almost went bankrupt and the canal deteriorates. In 1899 Major improvements were made and in 1913 the US Army Corps of Engineers take over. In the 1920's to 30's improvements were made and the canal was dredged to 50' wide and 9' deep. The canal has a problem, which remains today, in that canal doesn't have a good supply of water, even with a feeder ditch from Lake Drummond, so was dry in periods of low rainfall and drought. When we were on the Erie Canal, we heard that they would open the locks only twice a day, instead of the normal 4 times a day because of low water supply, but was glad to see that it's 4 times a day on the days that we are here.