October 24 Hampton to Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor Center

This morning was chilly but not too bad, we toughed it out! And a bit windy this morning. Here is a photo of the anchorage here.IMG_0305
The pink and blue hues were pretty as we looked over the Hampton Roads-Bridge Tunnel. I tried to get a photo of the full moon as it was going down over the highway but I came out too late.. It was beautiful and went down too fast.


And five minutes later, we had this beautiful sight.IMG_0319

Mike had the anchor lifted and we were away at 07:15 We headed to Norfolk and Portsmouth through and Naval Ship yard and the loading terminal yards. Unfortunately because of the early morning bright sun, there wasn’t a great opportunity for good photos. But here is what we did see:

Aircraft CarriersIMG_0326

Paperbird being dwarfed by this container shipIMG_0333

And fuel storage facilitiesIMG_0351

So many loading docksIMG_0355

Norfolk Southern Railroad, for all our railroad friends


And lots of coal cars there


So many loading docks everywhereIMG_0373

Naval Ships


Lots and lots of Naval shipsIMG_0390

The USS Wisconsin BB-64 which is part of the Nauticus Maritime Museum that is almost hidden by the back of the cruise shipIMG_0392

Cruise ship from GermanyIMG_0399

Dagny (name of this sailboat) We met these owners on our last day in Annapolis. They are from South Lancaster, ON and sail out of Lake ChamplainIMG_0397

Another sailboat in the anchorage from Canada. We found out later that it is Soulmates, from Ingleside, ONIMG_0402

Dagny is anchored where we anchored last time in Portsmouth and we used the laundry facilities here at this marinaIMG_0404

Looking across the River to Norfolk from PortsmouthIMG_0406

An Aircraft Carrier ShipIMG_0412

Norfolk Naval ShipyardIMG_0415

With strict orders to keep out


And lots of ships in the shipyard. Here’s one of themIMG_0421

Bridges to go under


And another railway bridge and a lift bridge


And then we can make a choice on which route to take on the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway (ICW)IMG_0440

We chose the Dismal Swamp and the next lock opening was at 11:00. So we idled along down and noticed this mermaid. We thought of our grandaughters, Margie and Elle. They love mermaids.IMG_0445

Then we head into the Deep Creek Lock.IMG_0446

There is a 6 foot lift here and lots of conch shells.


We start through the canal. Note the boats going through the green duck weed.IMG_0455

Once we are out of the lock and into the canal, the lockmaster drives around and lifts the bridge.


Apparently the word Dismal was given to it in 1728 by Colonel William Byrd II of Virginia. He proposed making a channel to transport good from the Abermarle Sound into the Nansemond and Elizabeth Rivers. He had returned from making a survey of the Virginia-North Carolina border for the English Crown. He and his men had to struggle through the dense forests of the great swamp. Byrd found it repulsive and added the word Dismal to the name. In May, 1763, George Washington made his first visit to the Great Dismal Swamp and suggested draining it and digging a north-south canal through it to connect the waters of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Abermarle Sound in North Carolina. In 1784, the Dismal Swamp Canal Company was created. Virginia authorized canal construction in 1787 and North Carolina gave authorization in 1790. Work on the canal was started in 1793. The canal was dug by hand and was slow. Most of the labor was done by slaves from nearby landowners. Because the slaves were familiar with the swamp, it became a haven for runaways. The canal opened in 1805. It has been upgraded and rebuilt many times since then. It is the oldest operating man-made canal in the United States and the Dismal Canal is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is also part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, an escape route used by numerous slaves in antebellum North Carolina. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are responsible for the locks and the Dismal Swamp Canal.

This commemorative plaque was at the Deep Creek Lock.IMG_0453

The Dismal Swamp looked a bit different to us as we motored along than when we took this canal route home in 2015. Then remembering it was because it was rainy and in late April. Looking back at the photos, all the trees were newly budded and everything was so green and fresh. However, it was still a nice peaceful and beautiful meander through the canal. The canal is 22 miles long and 6 feet deep at centerline. Here’s some of our sightings today:

Some colour change on the treesIMG_0460

Green on both sides and straight down

A little turtle basking in the sunIMG_0468

Beautiful treesIMG_0470

And moreIMG_0485

Follow the leaderIMG_0489

Had to be careful along here. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 did a lot of damage to this canal and it was closed for a year and a half. It had to be cleaned up and re-dredged. Had to be sure to stay between theseIMG_0501

Lots of lily pads for our grandson EastonIMG_0506

The swamp is also a National Wildlife Refuge


And here is our Welcome sign. Yep, in North CarolinaIMG_0519

And bet you can guess what it says on the other side when you re heading northIMG_0522

Boats docking at the free dock at the Visitor CenterIMG_0526

We tied up beside a trawler here at 14:40. The Dismal Swamp Visitor Center is located right up from the dock and off the highway. They are most welcoming. By the end of the day, there were 9 boats rafted in here. More about our days in the Dismal Swamp in the next blog.

Today we travelled 34.72 nm.

4 thoughts on “October 24 Hampton to Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor Center

    1. Yes as we motored along it, we couldn’t help but think of their sweat and tears that went into building the canal. I read that one time they found 13 different colonies of slaves living in the swamp. Just imagine!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s