Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dismal Swamp at the Visitor's Center docks

Impressive when passing - big!
We need to start out at 7:00 am to make the Gilmerton bridge for the 9:30 opening. It's an impressive trip past Norfolk with all the Navy shipyards. One passed us on the way out to sea, not sure what class it was but it was big.

We managed to make the Gilmerton bridge on time and passed through with about 12 other boats! What a crowd! We peeled off towards the Dismal Swamp and was last in line with five boats ahead of us. The lock can hold about eight boats so we made it through okay. However, the trip to the visitor's center was noisy. If you're bothered by thunks on your hull or keel, then don't take the Dismal Swamp route. There are often logs that lay across the bottom of the canal that will collide with you keel. They generally don't do any damage but they do wake you up - thunk - thunk! We counted about five today, mainly on the stretch nearest the first lock. They were all lying on the bottom, not visible on the water, you just heard their impact.

At the locks - up we go
Later on we did see some longs floating on the surface which were much easier to avoid, you just have to watch out for them. We also encountered five  boats headed north! The canal is very narrow and you have to be very careful not to get too far over to one side or your will scrap against trees that overhang the canal, I did just that during one boat passing! Rather more startling than hitting a bottom log.

The visitor's center was full of boats, no room at the face dock but we did raft up to a boat already at the dock for the night. In all there are three boats rafted to the four boats at the face dock, a common occurrence at the center. There's no other place to go for the night so boaters make allowances.

On Friday we'll head for Elizabeth City and their free docks, hopefully it won't be as crowded as here.