Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dismal Swamp

When last we left the intrepid adventurers they were getting over being towed off a grounding. Today we are rafted up at the free dock at the visitors center at the Dismal Swamp (mile 28 of the ICW just below the Virginia border) avoiding an underwater post at the south end of the dock and, we hope, the gale predicted for the Chesapeak for tonight until tuesday. In between we went to Morehead City and stayed at a marina, met up with Kathy and Dave on Puff, anchored at Bellhaven, did a long (89 mile) day across Albamare Sound to Elizabeth City where we went to a local party for the cruisers that they have about every three days. We talked with some cruisers who had come across the sound after us and were hit with 6 to 8 foot waves and 25 knot of winds. The Dismal Swamp is not dismal. In fact, it is quite beautiful with depths, so far, not under 9 feet. Between its beauty and the friendliness and free docking of Elizabeth City, it is WELL WORTH IT. However, you need to time it well as the locks at each end open only 4 times a day. We just missed the 8:30 AM opening and had to wait for the 11:00. Puff and Harmony anchored in the middle of the narrow channel to block the powerboats from getting ahead of us and were the first ones into the lock and out of it as well. There were so many boats that the lock master had to work the lock twice to let people past. After each opening, he would hop in his car and drive up to open a highway bridge for us all to pass. Lots of turtles, snakes, birds, etc. in the swamp but the "ditch" as it is called is very narrow and perfectly straight. It is also very well protected from wind with large cyprus trees overhanging the sides. I think this will be the route of choice when we go south again.

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