November 10 & 11, 2013
Not sure why they call it dismal. I found it delightful, but the leaves were changing and we’re still newbies so it was exciting for us this time. A few people said we’d be bored with it within the first 5 minutes. Eh. I found it grand!
Of course I was worried about the locks and the bridges. I’ve heard lots of stories about bridge guys being grumbly but we had nothing but great experiences. The guys were super friendly and there was no stress whatsoever, except in my head, stress seems to hang out there :) We saw some wildlife on our trip down the swamp: a blue heron and a bald eagle. I really thought there would be more critters like snakes and turtles and such, but no cigar! We did see a squirrel who looked like he was squawking at us, “Get out of my swamp!” It’s also fun to note that Leo made peace with the deck of our boat during our swamp trip. He spent the entire 2 days basking in the sun, enjoying the scenery, and being at one with nature :) He still runs down below at the first feel of waves, but progress has been made! It helps if his (yes, it’s his now) Snuggie is on deck too. He likes the sun/Snuggie combination.
There is lots of history in this swamp. Unfortunately, history is wasted on me… I will stick to appreciating the swamps beauty and you can read it’s history here if you’d like.
And now, The Dismal Swamp in photographs (read the captions for more ramblings!)
Technically not on the Dismal Swamp, the Gilmerton Bridge was the first bridge we had to “hail” or call on the VHF to request an opening. It is a lift bridge, so it literally lifts up so that we tall boats can fit under. Super cool.
Here you get to choose which way you’d like to go on the ICW. Boats with a deeper draft usually go the Virginia Cut route because the Dismal Swamp has shallower depths.
Our first locking experience.
Me at Deep Creek Lock
JR handling his lines!
We tied up here after our first lock. It’s a free dock that is near a park and a short walk from Food Lion and a Hardee’s (where we ate dinner that night!)
The trees were awfully beautiful.
Because the locks and bridges are timed, you end up in a long line of boats.
The bridge goes up after boats are let through the lock. It’s a pretty cool little system they’ve got. Sometimes it’s the same guy that runs from lock to bridge or bridge to lock to let you through.
The Dismal Swamp was Leo’s kind of sailing. No heeling, no waves, and a purring motor. He finally decided he liked hanging with us on the deck.
Evidently, the Superintendent doesn’t take care of his house!
This is pretty much what it looked like for about 22 miles.
They say that a local farmer has the right to push this bridge over the swamp as needed, to heard his cattle to the other side! We didn’t see a farmer.
One of the two wildlifes we saw!
It was so pretty!
I tried so hard to get a pic of the water. The color is pretty distinct, caused by the rotting Cypress trees. It kinda’ looks like coffee.
The Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor Center. You could access it by boat or car!
Leo at the visitor center. I took him for a walk, thinking he might like the grass… Nope, he headed straight back for our boat. I guess he knows it’s home now <3
Here’s the other wildlife we saw!