07/01/2009, Norfolk, VA
June 30th... Deep Creel to Portsmouth VA
07/01/2009, The Great Dismal Swamp
We wandered up to Robert's shack at about 8am to see if there were any boats heading for the lock. There were none so there was really no rush. We talked for a while, drank coffee and ate Danish until we decided that it was time to leave. It took about 10 minutes to get the boat away from the dock and by that time Robert had the lock open and ready. It took about 15 minutes to lower us down to the level of the Atlantic... a drop of about 6 feet and then we were on our way to the land of big ships.... Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton. We only had to deal with one bridge and it wasn't a problem. The railroad bridges were all in the up position and the Jordan Bridge is being torn down which makes the trip through the city much easier.
We traveled about 10 miles and pulled into the south basin in Portsmouth, which is supposed to be for day stops only but by all accounts, no one is bothered if boaters spend the night.
After getting the boat squared away and showers, we jumped on the ferry next door and rode over to the Norfolk side of the river. We walked the waterfront and ended up at a naval museum which has the Battleship Wisconsin tied up along side for tours. It was amazing. We spent a couple of hours there and then got something to eat before taking the ferry back to Portsmouth.
At 6 pm we wandered down High Street to the Commodore Theater. It is a restored, art deco, movie theater that is now a movie and dinner place. You buy your ticked and choose a table. Then after being led to our table, we were given menus and were told to call in our order using the telephone on our table.
So we ordered up some dinner, iced tea and popcorn and about the time the previews were finished, we were down to the popcorn.
The movie,"The Proposal", was pretty good, the screen was huge and the sound system was very good as well. We had a great time, and thought about our many of our friends who would love this place.
Back at the boat we sat in the cockpit for an hour or so and went to bed.
June 29th... Deep Creek, Va
We walked up and had coffee at Robert's office at the lock this morning. Our plan was to lock through at the 8:30 locking. We were headed for the Hampton River to check things out, but Robert convinced us that we should stay in the Portsmouth / Norfolk area for a day instead.
As we sat around Kathy and I decided that we really did have a few days to kill and if we stayed here we could wash our canvas without having to pay for a dock. Our dodger and bimini get mildew spots on the inside and to clean them they have to come off and get scrubbed with a soap / bleach solution. It takes so much water to rinse that we have to have access to a hose. We were planning on pulling into the Deltaville Marina for a night to get this job done before we flew back to Michigan.
We got all of our cleaning agents around, took down the Sunbrella and took half of it up to a picnic table next to the lockmasters office where there was some shade and a hose. We covered the picnic table with a tarp, mixed up our cleaning solution and started scrubbing. After about an hour of scrubbing and rinsing we were done with the dodger, took it back to the boat and put it back up to dry in place.
Then it was time for the bimini. We followed the same process and by about noon were finished and have an amazingly clean dodger and bimini.
We had some conch salad for lunch and then hiked to the auto parts store to see if we could find some 303 Fabric Protectant. After washing it I needed to retreat the fabric with waterproofing, and ran a little short. The parts store didn't have any so we'll just have to wait and hope it doesn't rain much this week...
After a stop at the grocery we walked back to the boat, and spent the remainder of the afternoon doing very little. We did walk back to the convenience store for ice cream before supper, and took a walk in the park.
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.