10/30/2007, Goat Island, VA
Friday, October 26-The Great Dismal Swamp.
After putting some coffee on, I wandered over to the mailbox and grabbed the newspaper which we both finished before Ann and Neville walked over our boat (we were rafted) to the dock to begin breakfast. On the menu was rum soaked raison pancakes....Ann's recipe, as well as bacon, Danish, sausage, and fruit. We are all captives here because the bridge just down stream from the lock only opens in conjunction with the lock and the locking time is 9am. Robert has everyone for breakfast ... before he opens the bridge to let folks head south. It's wonderful.
Five boats of seven decided to leave this morning and after some shuffling, all got off the dock at about 10am. The Great Dismal Swamp was similar to stretches of the Erie Canal...though narrower. We had to watch the overhanging trees to make sure that our masts didn't get tangled up.
There is another option, The Virginia Cut, but if the Dismal Swamp is open, it is definitely worth the trip.
We stopped to stretch our legs and have some lunch at the North Carolina Visitor's center before pushing on to the lock four miles ahead. The lock opening was scheduled for 3pm so we had to motor very slowly to waste some time before arriving at South Mills to lock through. As we pulled in, a buzzer that we had never heard, went off. We had overheated. For the last 5 miles we had been pushing through some green algae on the surface and it had collected in our raw water strainer. While we were locking through, I emptied the strainer... and things were back to normal.
(Normal is not quite the word I would use. To get to this strainer Mike had to get everything off the berth that we call "the garage". We store things on it that won't fit anywhere else. When we stopped, we were going to rearrange, tidy up and put it all back, but found that there was a leak and the mattress and bedding were wet. So, we removed everything and spread things out to dry. A stanchion needs re-bedding before we can put things back, so it's a bit of a mess down below for a day or so.)
We continued on to the Pasquotank River and anchored behind Goat Island....(Randy this is a good anchorage) with three other boats that we left with this morning. We are about one hour from Elizabeth City, and 4 hours from the Albemarle Sound .. which is notorious for being a nasty piece of water. Winds are not going to be good tomorrow but we think that they are going to just get worse for a couple of days before getting better...so we think we'll go for it.
The Dismal Swamp route....and Robert, the lockmaster at Deep Creek, have been one of the high points of this trip. We have been the recipients of true Southern hospitality!
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.