07/01/2009, The Great Dismal Swamp
June 28... Deep Creek, Va
Most of the morning was spent hanging out with Robert, the lockmaster here at Deep Creek. Three boats locked through at 11 and we knew two of them and had a nice chat. I changed a primary fuel filter that seemed to be acting up recently as well.
It was hot in the afternoon and most of our time was spent reading. We walked to a convenience store about ¼ mile away and picked up a Sunday paper and some beer.
The park adjacent to the lock here gets lots of business on the weekends and so there was lots of traffic on our dock. Our way of life is so foreign to theirs, that many stop and talk. We had two people ask if there was anything we needed ... or did we need them to drive us somewhere. Most just wanted to know where we've been and where we were going.
Later, I topped off our water tank so we should be good until Deltaville.
We had our second rotisserie chicken and broccoli slaw meal in a row ... because it was easy and too hot to cook.
From talking with Robert today I learned that the Dismal Swamp Canal can never be closed. It can be closed to boat traffic but his is main job is managing the water. When the canal was built 200 years ago the natural west to east drainage was interrupted. Lake Drummond which lies in the Dismal Swamp west of the canal drained naturally into the Northeast River to the east. The canal is a dike to that drainage. East of the canal ditches and drains were dug over time make up for the lack of natural drainage.
There is a dam at Lake Drummond with an operator and locks at each end of the canal. By controlling the amount of water that leaves the lake and the number of lock openings per day, the level of water is maintained but it's not as easy as just holding or letting water go...
Rain in the area, soil saturation, and evaporation all play a part in water levels. They have to anticipate summer droughts as well as tropical storms. It is projected that without the canal the water table in the area would drop about 25 feet.
The canal and the lock at Great Bridge also control the water level in the Elizabeth River which flows through Norfolk and the Navy yard there.
Back to the Dismal Swamp
06/28/2009, Deep Creek, VA
June 27th... Goat Island, NC to Deep Creek, VA
It was a beautiful morning clear and cool for a change. We motored through the wilderness keeping to the middle as the river narrowed down to about 60 feet.
We locked through with "Raven" whom we met in Oriental. We seem to be the only boats traveling north these days.
Our destination today was Deep Creek where there is first a lift bridge and then a lock, both of which are open 4 times a day. We were traveling through the canal with the idea of making the 1:30 opening. But we were unsure of when the bridge would really open. According to what we read, the lock opens for southbound traffic at 1:30 and to lock through takes about 30 minutes. Then the lock master drives to the bridge 400 yards away and opens the bridge. Kathy called on the phone to find out exactly where the bridge was going to open and if there was room at their free dock.
The lock master told us to just call when we got to the bridge and he'd let us through early if we promised not to tell anyone. (So why are you telling??) It is not a busy time of year here.
We were docked by about 12:30 and walked into town to look for a tarp that we'll need in Deltaville and some groceries.
Our afternoon was spent reading in the shade of the cockpit and watching kids fish from the dock.
You never know what you might see!
06/28/2009, Goat Island, N.C.
June 26th... Reeds Pt, NC to Goat Island NC
We were up and gone by 7am to cross the Albemarle Sound. We had nice wind and made good time across the sound and up the Pasquotank to Elizabeth City. Rather than stopping for a free dock, we continued another 8 miles upstream to Goat Island where we've anchored in the past, although the bridge tender did his best to try to get us to stay in Elizabeth City. We were anchored by 1pm and had some lunch. It's a beautiful spot completely in the wild...except for the water skiers who like this remote area.
The only thing worth mentioning ... besides the wall to wall crab pots was the dirigible that was in the area. It looked like someone was taking lessons. It would make a circle over the river going up quite high and then head into the wind and touch down in a field. It never actually landed but continued to make a circle of a couple of miles and then go in for a touch....and then back up. It was actually quite close at times.
A thunder storm started to build in the west, but we looked on the computer and knew that is was sliding to the south of us. We weren't so luck a little later when one came right over the top of us. There was no wind but loads of rain and lots of nearby lightning.
We had a nice dinner, read until dark and went to bed. We needed to leave in the morning before 7am to make the 8:30 lock opening about 10 more miles upstream at the southern entrance to the Dismal Swamp Canal.