Through the Swamp
22 November 2009 | Elizabeth City, NC
Beth / around 60ish
Around about 7:30 we were up and off from Lafayette River. It turns out it was a little early because we poked along some to time our arrival correctly for the 11 am opening of the Deep Creek Lock in the Great Dismal Swamp. In our laid back state, we gawked at all the military vessels, waved to the tugs, and generally enjoyed our trip. We waited for about 20 minutes for the lock to open. The water rises by about 6 feet for southbound vessels, and the lockmaster was really helpful, taking our lines and looping them over the bollards.
Three sailboats came through - Oz (Ken and Connie), McBeth (Fran and Charlie), and Madcap - and we all stopped at the Visitors Centre for the night. A bit later, Feelin' Lucky arrived with Betsy and Jim on board. We signed the guest book at the visitors' centre (no charge for mooring) and then in true cruiser fashion, chatted on the docks, comparing itineraries and boating experiences.
The swamp was not quite as exciting this time - perhaps because it is late in the season and much of the foliage is off the trees. We like our swamps to be swampier and hot and green with birds and turtles. We saw only one lonely little turtle on a log. The depth is no more than 6 feet in places. We draw just under 6 feet and the lockmaster said we might bump a time or two. We never did feel any bumps but I'm sure we ploughed through the mud on occasion because in a couple of places we saw 0.1 - around the 20 mile marker and again a little later. (Can't remember the mile marker). Oz was ahead of us and very kindly called back when they spotted deadheads or shallow spots.
Three of the four boats left Sunday morning to go to Elizabeth City to wait out the coming wind and rain. McBeth decided to stay put and do some maintenance work. We caught the South Mills lock opening (0900 for southbound boats). Feelin' Lucky was ahead of us by a bit, so we went right through the bridge as it opened and then right into the lock. We tried and tried to radio the lockmaster but he didn't answer calls (VHF channel 13 in North Carolina). He took our lines in the lock but he never did come back out to hand them off to us when we were ready to leave (that is the harder part because we had dropped 6 feet and couldn't just lift them off - they needed to be pulled around and off).
So we are now in North Carolina - we're knocking off the states and we're getting a little warmer - I think! I didn't have quite as many clothes on today but the wind has come up now and we've put up our enclosure. We took a walk about town with Ken and Connie, and will enjoy exploring it a bit more over the next day or two. The Muddy Waters coffee shop on Main Street has wifi so that's where I have come to get these postings up. We don't want you worrying about us!!