Intracoastal Waterway

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Charleston and Beaufort

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The Great Dismal Swamp

The Intracoastal Waterway
18 June 2005

We left Beaufort heading up the Intracoastal Waterway, (ICW), into the Adamís Creek Canal, leading to Adamís Creek and on to the very wide Neuse River and the town of Oriental. Adamís Creek was mostly surrounded by very flat marshland. The town of Oriental was named by the wife of the original land owner from the name plate of a wrecked ship.

We had planned to take Dream On to Oriental for the summer, but we decided to explore more of the ICW and head further north. We anchored overnight in the South River, off the Neuse River in a very pleasant wide anchorage surrounded by pine trees.

19 June 2005

Sailed across the Neuse River, into Bay River, leading to Gale Creek, then Gale Creek Canal. We were a little low on transmission fluid, so we found reference to a boat yard at Hobuken on the Gale Creek Canal. We arrived at the boatyard, E.C. Mayo, on a Sunday, so were not sure they would be open. However, when we arrived there were many fishing boats all decked out with flags, a fete being held ashore with barbecues. It turned out that this was the annual blessing of the fishing fleet. We felt a little out of place squeezing a British registered yacht into a mooring between the fishing boats but we were made to feel very welcome..

From there we moved into Goose Creek, crossed the Pamlico River, into the Pungo River, passed Bellhaven and anchored overnight in the junction of the Pungo River and Pungo & Alligator Rivers Canal.

20 June 2005

This turned out to be a very long day, with many changes of water state and weather.

Out into the main Pungo River then immediately into the Pungo & Alligator Rivers Canal. Once clear of the canal, we entered the Alligator River. Here we experienced high winds and rough water. We left the Alligator River through its swing bridge into the very wide Albermarle Sound. At one point we thought of turning back. The water was very rough and breaking right over the boat. Also the water here is brown and opaque, not good Caribbean blue. Winds rose to 25 knots.

We kept going, sailing on genoa alone and on into the much quieter and calmer Pasquotank River up to Elizabeth City. We did not take advantage of the free water front moorings offered by Elizabeth City as the wind was still blowing on to the shore, so we passed through Elizabeth City and anchored in small cove further up river.


The Great Dismal Swamp Canal
21 June 2005


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 caught.

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.

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