No Alex and Lucas and Princess Maggie, Mimi has not started playing your video game so don’t get excited. DS stands for Dismal Swamp. The name does not reflect the place however, because it is just natural and beautiful and quiet. Our first President, George Washington, created it. He wanted a faster way to move goods and supplies from the Chesapeake Bay down to North Carolina and a swamp was in the way. So he surveyed a route to dig a canal through the cypress swamp for barges to travel. And let me tell you that clearing and digging a 6 foot deep ditch through a swamp is not easy. Many workers were carried off by the large mosquitoes here. It usually takes about 4 mosquitoes per 160 pound man!
We moved out of Pelican Marina at 0700 and went the quarter mile to line up in front of the lift bridge that guards the entrance to the Dismal Swamp. There were four boats in our flotilla and we would all stop at the Visitor’s Center overnight. But it was 15 miles to the lock and another five to the Center and all of this had to be run at dead slow idle.
So why do people go through this swamp when there is another way around? They do it because it is so beautiful. And here are some photos to share it with you.
We pulled up to the Center and tied off. Cbay was the last in line and had to raft up beside Erika Lin. There is no power here so we are running generators all day and night. Ain’t cheap I tell you but you cannot sleep in near 90 degree weather in a swamp without AC. We visited the nature center and had a cookout on the grill for dinner. Jan ate those scallops we bought at R.E. Mayo Seafood and I had BBQ chicken. We had to use burning mosquito sticks all around the picnic table. Then back to the boats. It will be easy to sleep tonight because the water is absolutely still. It is a swamp after all.
We had a cookout at the Visitor Center and Max the poodle joined us and he found a little friend.
Friday morning and no rest for the weary. I have got to quit staying up late each time expecting a different result.
Three boats: Cbay, Brandy IV and Loop Dreams all decided to move 7 miles to another small dock and try to tie off three abreast without blocking the canal. If we cannot then Cbay would go on alone. We were successful as it was a wider place. The dock was only 25 feet long but we tied three 40 foot boats there and launched three dinghies. The idea was to run up a side canal for three miles, load the dinghies on a trolley rail and take them over a hill to Lake Drummond.
Unfortunately the other two dinghies were much larger than ours so they took off and left us. By the time our little 3.3hp got us to the trolley rail there was not time to go over to the lake because we were the outer of the three boat raft and no-one could leave without us. I include a picture but we didn’t ride the trolley.
We saw lots of wildlife. A Summer Tanager at the entrance lock and another unidentified creature on a nature hike.
As I write this we are making up time and trying to get to the exit lock in time for the 1330 opening. It is hard to do when one boat is a slow trawler and can only do 7mph. This is the problem of traveling with dissimilar boats. It looks like we are going to make it. Next stop Norfolk, Virginia.