Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Elizabeth City to Dismal Swamp Visitor Center

From what I understand, the word "dismal" means swamp. Not that it's a particularly bad swamp. But it is called the Dismal Swamp. Kind of like Sherwood Forest, where "wood" means forest. English. Go figure.

We're here largely as a timing issue. The Dismal Swamp is bounded by two locks. Unlike the locks of the Okeechobee, which open on demand, these only open four times a day; 8 am, 11 am, 1:30 pm, and 4 pm. While they aren't really far apart, you can't travel quickly on the Dismal Swamp due to it's size and depth. It's crazy narrow and crazy shallow, so you go crazy slow. Like 5 knots, or less. As a result, unless you went through the first lock at 8 am, you won't get though the second by 4. And you'll be stuck on the swamp.

Locking at South Mills
Martha (As You Wish) took the pic
We just opted to get stuck. We left Elizabeth City around 10 am with the intention of getting to the first lock, South Mills, for the 1:30 pm lock through, then hang out at the visitor center.

They have a wall for boats to tie up on, but it only fits about three boats. There are six of us here now. So, we raft. That is, one boat ties up to the dock, another boat ties up to that boat, and another boat ties up to that. Like logs on a raft, I suppose.

The trip itself was beyond amazing. Bounded by beautiful cypress trees, warm day, sunny, just enough of a breeze to keep you cool. At one point Russ commented that they really needed a toll booth to charge boaters because the ride was so wonderful. Yes, narrow, yes, shallow (only once you pass the first lock), but stunning, quiet, and lush. Glorius.

We decided to take this path for it's history. It's one of the oldest canals in America. Surveyed by a young man named George Washington (you may have heard of him) but never got built. Washington bought the land and made the first 5 miles of the canal. We'll travel along it tomorrow. Back in the day it allowed a bunch of commercial traffic to get
Rafted on the swamp. We're on the far right.
Tied to us is As You Wish, then Bella Gato.
A couple of sail boats are rafted ahead of us.
to the southern states. Now, it's largely an option on the loop. 

Two more dead flies. Which brings our death toll to 29. All of them fed the fishes.

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