The Great Dismal Swamp
10/30/2007, Deep Creek, VA
Thursday, October 27 Dismal Swamp... Day 1
It rained during the night ... hard at times , which is exactly what this part of the country needs. I was up at 7:00 making coffee and listening to the weather. We need to be looking ahead weatherwise for the day after tomorrow, as the crossing of the Albemarle Sound needs to be reasonable winds. What I found was that conditions would be much better in a couple of days so we decided sit out today and stay here at the lock.
Since Robert, had promised coffee and Danish if we stayed the night, I borrowed the newspaper at 7:15 and we both read it by the time he got to work. We headed up to the office a while later to a feast of sausage and biscuits, Danish, pigs in blanket dipped in maple syrup and lots of coffee. There were four boats on the dock and all were represented.
The day was rainy. I worked on organizing our nav-station with the new radio equipment and had a wood working job to finish as well.... a mount out of a piece of 1/2 inch teak.
In the afternoon, three more boats stopped, for the night. Although we thought the dock was full, we all moved closer together and made room for more. One boat, Peace, rafted off us.
Robert's truck (a 1990's vintage F150) was having transmission problems so Neville was called into action and diagnosed the problem in a few minutes and after a run to the parts store, the shifter was correctly bolted into place. We all pitched in for pizza and had a wonderful meal with everyone eating way more than need be.....by the way... Ann and Neville's boat is an ocean going bi-hulled schooner of about 50 feet that they built themselves.
10/30/2007, Deep Creek, VA
October 24th. Matt's birthday and one day before Jeremy's birthday. (I had help with that)
Matt if what you get is a bunch of broken glass and a tee shirt, it's probably my fault. Jeremy you may need to get a handle on just exactly how may pets are enough for one person on a limited income.
Today was all about timing. The lock at the beginning of the Dismal Swamp opens at 3:00 and we had 10 miles to get there...but there were bridge openings that had to be factored into the equation as well as the fact that we needed a pit stop for fuel.
I launched the dinghy after coffee and checked out the nearest marina ... some are so small that maneuvering Sapphire is almost too much work to be worth while. The Tidewater had lots of room and sold beer and ice as well. We were there.
After Kathy cooked some black beans and rice... and ham, we hoisted the anchor and dodged the crab pots over to the marina. After loading up on fuel, water, beer and ice, we were off for the upper reaches of the Elizabeth River... which we found to be wall to wall docks for really big ships. At the sign for the Great Dismal Swamp we took a right and made our way to the lock that is the beginning of the ditch. We anchored for an hour to wait for the next scheduled lock opening with two other sailboats and watched the skies turn ugly. After getting organized and moving up, the skies were really black, and the lockmaster suggested that we all add more lines, batten the hatches and head below until the storm blew over. We had planned to head to the North Carolina Visitor's Center for the evening where there is a free dock, but the lockmaster at Deep Creek thought it was too far without enough daylight, so made some other suggestions. Then he strongly suggested we stay right there on the dock beyond the lock and he promised coffee and Danish in the morning. Well, it was beginning to rain again and it was dark and gloomy, so we tied up with the other two sailboats behind a trawler that was already there. There is electricity on the docks, but it has been locked and is unavailable, but there is water. Robert, the lockmaster, told us to go get the paper in the morning and head up for coffee at 8 o'clock or so.
10/30/2007, Norfolk, VA
Tuesday...Deltaville to Norfolk
We left our anchorage early... around 7:30, which is daylight here. After winding our way out of the river, we joined a train of four sailboats heading south ... the wind was on the nose for the second day in a row and since there were no convenient stop offs, we motored into the waves again. The wind died from 25 knots to about five and the water flattened out for about three hours and then as we approached Norfolk, it picked up to about 30... but without much fetch, it wasn't a problem.
We arrived at Hampton Roads at about 3:30. On the way down we passed all the rivers that McClellan used in his first bungled attempt at the South . . . and Yorktown where we accidentally won the revolutionary war. History is everywhere around here.... Hampton Roads is a huge expanse of water. I was of the opinion that it was a place where a number of tributaries came together before emptying into the Bay ... but no way. The place is measured in miles. We entered and turned south after about two miles..and couldn't see the west end of the area. After turning south we motored past the US Navy. Again, the slips and dry dock area were miles in length. There were old aircraft carriers and new boats with stealth technology that look a little weird. I forgot to mention that while on our way down the Bay today, we were entertained by whales (I don't know what kind yet) dolphins, and two US Navy Hover Craft that were about 100 feet long and were flying around all afternoon. My guess is that they can hit at 60 knots.
The anchorage is on the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk. It's called Hospital Point and is fine except for the boat traffic makes things a little rolly. Hospital Point is also mile 0 of the ICW. The first 8 miles of the intracoastal is through town with 2 bridges that need to be opened for us to pass. Then we are faced with the choice of the Virginia Cut or the Dismal Swamp which was a ditch partially built by G. Washington to log off parts of the swamp that he bought for next to nothing. It is now a nature preserve and has been recommended by some people whom we listen to...
Kathy called the North Carolina Visitor's Center on the Dismal Swamp today because there is some question of water levels due to drought conditions in this area of the country. They have reduced the lock openings to twice a day but say that there is enough water for us. It is supposed to be rainy for a few days so I am not sure that we'll leave here tomorrow or Thursday. We also need some fuel and water before we hit the ICW.