Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thank You George Washington

En Route, The Great Dismal Swamp Canal
36 42.91 N 0776 21.16 W

My, the contrast is striking.  Just yesterday I wrote of being terrorized out in the harsh sea.  Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, we're surrounded by supreme tranquility, beauty and security of the Dismal Swamp Canal (DSC) and the Pasquotank River.

Last night, we had dinner at La Famila Restaurant in Deep Creek.  It was excellent.  It was our first time there, despite having spent many nights nearby.  The reason was that we heard early that it was a terrible and unsanitary dive.  That scared us away.  Since then, though we heard more and more reports from cruisers saying the opposite; that it was nice.  We are happy to learn that the later reports were correct.

This morning, Libby went out to gather pine needles.  She knows of two trees near the Elizabeth Docks that have, "luscious" needles.  Now she's at the level where she seeks out individual trees, not just species.  Today, we'll be at the NC Visitor's Center.   We used to think of that as Ground Zero for pine needles.  That was before learning of still better places at Deep Creek and at Carolina Beach State Park.

This is our 14'th time through this canal. We love it.  It is our most joyful place in our entire north-south annual migration. Indeed, we have never been through the "main" ICW route which bypasses the canal.  Reportedly, more than 90% of the boaters choose the main route rather than this one.  I believe that it is because they hear reports of sailboats bumping bottom; that the water is too shallow.   We never bumped.  We leave our depth alarm set for 7 feet, and it almost never beeps.  I believe that those stories are false.  Instead of bumping bottom, those boaters bumped short logs floating in the water.  There are many such logs and they go "thump" when they hit the hull. Boats with very tall masts, say 55' or more, must also watch out for overhanging branches.  They are easy to avoid, but it does take a bit of attention to watch overhead and to steer around the lowest branches.

The "main" ICS route also bypasses the Pasquotank River, which in our opinion is the most beautiful place on the whole ICW, and Elizabeth City which is simply a delightful stopping place for cruisers.

Anyhow, I'm glad to keep it they way it is with only 10% of the traffic coming this way.  It would be too crowded if everyone came the DSC route.

The Great Dismal Swamp Canal is a product of George Washington.  General Washington owned huge tracts of swamp land near here.  He figured out that by draining the swamp, those acres could be converted to prime farming land.  He set his slaves to the job with picks and shovels.  They succeeded, and the lands to the east of the canal did indeed become prime farming country.  Most of the land west of the canal remains swamp, so large parts of that ecosystem were preserved.  It seems that we have many things to thank George Washington for.

p.s.  Libby's comment to yesterday's blog was, "If our first offshore passage had been like this one, I would have left the boat and sworn to never sail again."    So once again, we have been lucky.  Most passages are nice, not nasty.  We were fortunate enough to build early experiences with the nice kind.  At least that's the spin I like to use.  In reality, Libby's memory is a bit faulty. or selective.  See the posts, Chesapeake Week from June 2005, and Hammered from November 2005 those were both nasty passages in our first year.

1 comment:

  1. While your're at the NC Visitors Center please remove your grafiti from the benches. Please don't spoil it for the rest of us.


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