We left Hampton on Monday and dodged the traffic past Portsmouth and Norfolk, waited for 3 bridges to open and entered the Dismal Swamp canal. There are 2 locks in the canal with scheduled openings. Because we believed the guides and the information over the phone, we thought that the first lock would only open at 3pm. We loitered around and took our time getting there only to find out that they had an unscheduled opening at 2pm.
We were the only boat in the lock (somehow, everyone else found out about the earlier opening). The lock master, Robert, informed us that we wouldn’t make it to the North Carolina Visitor’s Center by dark so we stayed overnight at a free dock just past the lock. Robert promised us breakfast and coffee the next day so, with that kind of offer, we had to stay!
We met the folks on the other 3 boats and planned a happy hour event. Bailey enjoyed chasing his frisbee at the park right off of the dock. At happy hour, we were joined by the people on the boats that anchored on the other side of the lock.
On Tuesday morning after breakfast, we joined the parade of boats that came through the lock to travel the Dismal Swamp canal. Now I know why they call it the ‘ditch’. I have never experienced anything like this! Coffee-colored water with ominous tree stumps and mysterious floating objects which we needed to avoid. Looking up, our mast passed through treetops – sometimes very closely!
We stopped at the NC Visitor’s Center which serves both vehicles on Rt. 17 and boats on the canal. With very limited dock space, boats ‘raft’ to each other. I think there around 15 boats….not sure because some arrived after dark. The location is very nice with parks, restrooms and a museum for the Dismal Swamp.
I’m amazed that we meet people each day who know some of our friends from the Chesapeake. Small world…