05/22/2011, Deep Creek, VA
May 21st, 2011
Leaving Goat Island at 6 a.m. we were a little early for the 08:30 lock opening at South Mills which is the southern entrance of the Dismal Swamp. It was a perfectly calm morning with no sign of clouds. The reflection of the trees in the water made driving through the upper reaches of the Pasquotank amazing difficult. It was almost impossible to tell where the middle of the river was in all the green.
Safely in the Dismal we motored along quietly at 4 knots through the woods with the air perfumed by honeysuckle for 20 miles. We tied up at the north end of the canal for the night as we often do before braving the ships of Norfolk.
Beside us was another Bayfield "Spring Moon" who is about ¾ of the way through the Circle Loop. We chatted with them for a while ended up joining them and another couple from "Eleanor Tarr," for dinner at the Mexican place down the road. We had assisted "Eleanor Tarr" in docking on the Megadock a few weeks ago in Charleston but really didn't get a chance to talk to them. We had a great time remembering some of our favorite anchorages in the North Channel and Georgian Bay, while eating some tasty Mexican food. After a short stop at Food Lion, we walked back to the boat.
Blimp factory on the Pasquotank River
05/22/2011, On the way to the Great Dismal Swamp
May 20th, 2011
Weighing anchor at 6 a.m. we headed north up the Alligator and soon got some sail up to take advantage of a little west wind. After a few hours we were at its mouth which is notorious for shoaling. We continue to me amazed at why this is such a problem area for cruisers. If you stay between the navigational aids you are fine.... if you trust your instruments you will surely be aground.
In the Albemarle we found northwest winds at about 15 which made for some spray but compared to some of our trips across, was relatively calm. We dodged crab pots most of the way and then entered the Pasquotank River where we found even more pots in the way. Passing through Elizabeth City, we continued upstream to Goat Island where we anchored for the night. It was only 13:30, and could have made it all the way through the Dismal Swamp before dark but the admiral made the call. (By continuing we could have made Deltaville in three days form Oriental... but no such record for us this time.)
Tight squeeze in the Alligator-Pungo Canal
05/22/2011, Leaving Oriental, NC
May 19th, 2011
True to their word Steve and Kim were at the dock at 6 and we backed out of the slip not knowing which way the breeze and prop walk would take us. The bow gently came around to the port, as if we'd planned it, and we drove out of the fairway to the channel. With no wind to speak of, we headed north up the Neuse and then into the Bay river. From the Bay it was up Gale Creek, into the Hobucken canal to Goose Creek which dumps into the Pamlico River. We crossed the Pamlico and entered the Pungo for about 20 miles and then we entered the Alligator/Pungo for another 20. When we were about two miles from the Alligator and out of the canal, we met a tug pushing a barge. We were in one of the more narrow sections and there were submerged stumps on both sides of the canal so I called the Captain requesting a port to port meeting. He acknowledged and told us that he was going to head right at us and dodge to the starboard just as we met. It would be close, but he said but that we'd be ok. I pulled over as far as I dared and slowed as he barreled toward us. At the last minute he swerved as advertised and missed us by about 15 feet. Breathing hard, we entered the Alligator and anchored out of the wind after 73 nm and 11 hours of listening to the motor. The engine hasn't been on much this year and never for extended periods of time... I had a headache.
Jet fighters were after each other during the late afternoon and evening, screaming around us as they often do in this wilderness area. Once they quit at about 2200, we spent a quiet night in the exact spot where a few years ago we were bounced out of bed by 3 foot seas when the wind shifted to the north.