The Great Dismal Swamp Canal is maintained by the US
Army Corps of Engineers. It is not always open, due either to maintenance or
low water levels.
We weighed anchor at 0500 on the Pasquotank River in order to be
through Turner's Cut and at the
South Mills Lock at the start of Great Dismal Swamp Canal as it opened.
We were first at the lock followed by two other boats.
The lock opened after a short wait. After we
cleared the lock, we let the other two boats pass us.
The canal is so shallow in places that we were touching waterlogged branches lying on the bottom
regularly. Most of the way, we only had about 1 foot of clearance. We also
had to watch the trees and weave between them to avoid our rigging being
Half way through the canal is a Welcome Centre that
has access for both road and canal users. Free water is provided to yachts.
Here we met one of the boats that had been in the lock with us earlier,
Moonstruck with Jeff & Peggy on board.
Moonstruck left the rest area before us but called us
later in the day to advise that they had tied up outside Deep Creek bridge
and lock that led out of the canal and on into Norfolk, Virginia. Jeff
called to warn us that there was very little space to moor and that we could
raft up to Moonstruck if we wanted.
We went through the lock together and out into the
Elizabeth River. Then Jeff & Peggy
guided us into Norfolk. Quite a change from the canal to suddenly come out
into a very wide commercial river and then into the main centre of the US
Navy. We motored in past enormous naval boats, some in dry docks and
anchored in the river between Portsmouth and Norfolk.