Elizabeth City to Norfolk via the Dismal Swamp Canal May 1, 2019gtdearthlink Today was the best day in over a week – going out with a bang, lots of pictures. A very good day, one to remember. So many opportunities for good pictures – dead calm and great scenery… If only every day of this trip was like this… Turns out this will my last day on this year’s trip – decided the boat needs some things it doesn’t have for a single-handed voyage. Making the most of it – doing the Dismal Swamp, which I did not do last year when I brought Catitude home… Looks like a dead end, but there is a turn there – onward to the Dismal Swamp… Now on the Dismal Swamp Canal – looks like infinity, but it is 11 miles of this before a 20 to 30 degree turn and then 11 more miles… Two locks in today’s voyage – needed to make the first opening at 8:30 AM, about 15 miles from the marina I stayed at, so left early this morning – waiting for the opening here. Only two of us going North for the first opening today – going in after the gate opened. We will be raised up to where the dark stain stops. Turns out this boat is easy for me to handle in the locks by myself – here at the bottom… Now at the top… Part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails. A bridge in front of us whose opening is coordinated with the lock opening – the lock master is actually the bridge tender as well – he is in the silver van driving from the lock to the bridge… A little traffic at the bridge – there is a South-bound boat coming through while the two of us are heading North. Following the much bigger boat (40 feet) in front of me – if there is something to hit, he will hit it first. The mile markers tell us how for from Norfolk we are (mile zero). Coming up on the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center – a very popular stop along the way. Most of the boats behind me are staying here for the night. There is a swing bridge for pedestrian traffic across the canal, which opens for passing boats – just opened for us. They don’t want people speeding up and down the canal (erosion and other damage), so there is sort of a forced speed limit. The locks at each end only open every 2.5 hours – and you can’t make it between the two in 2.5 hours (22 miles), so there is actually 5 hours available to go the 22 miles. So, I took advantage of that and stopped at the visitor center… Nice relaxing place to stop and stretch the legs. The visitor center – also a stop for cars along the local highway. Very hospitable place – they registered my boat and gave me a lot of local information. Leaving the visitor center to make the far end lock opening. Now following a sailboat with 5.5 foot draft – anywhere the go successfully, I will be able to go. We are now entering Virginia – so happy, North Carolina has not been good to me. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Finally the bend in the Dismal Swamp Canal – only 11 miles to go! You can see the bend on the charts. There is a dredge ahead of us – the operator has not been lowering the hose far enough and several boats have hit it, one bending one of his props. The sailboat is going past the dredge now – so far so good… It appears that we successfully passed the dredging area – but wait, the sailboat just a few hundred feet from here came to a sudden stop after hitting his hose further down, as I went around them I hit it too. Turns out they had some damage – lost their speed sensor, while I had none – but I am now in front of them. An old abandoned railway crossing – nobody in front of me for miles. Believe it or not, there is actually a boat ramp in there somewhere. A fire truck was practicing spraying from their high pressure hose over the canal and stopped just as I got there. There is a bridge associated with the last lock, once again operated by one person. The bridge does not open until 1:30, so they supply a spot to tie up to wait – here I am tied up to the big boat that was originally in front of me, and the sailboat has a spot to tie up behind us. The bridge only has four feet clearance, so I can’t get under it – but, there are several restaurants in this area, so I took time to go get some food… Sure enough at 1:30, the lock master opened the bridge for us – I had the other two boats go first, since they are both faster than me and would pass me later anyway. The lock master has just closed the lock gate behind us… At this top of this lock… Now at the bottom – time to head to Norfolk. I’m really glad I did the Dismal Swamp – kind of boring, but beautiful! Heading out of the lock. A really tall bridge – the board read 145 feet. Norfolk Naval Shipyard – 1767. Lots of work going on with Naval ships at BAE. Ships in the water and dry-dock. Better shot of the dry-dock, that ship really has a slim hull! Coming in to Waterside Marina where I am staying tonight. Pretty much right downtown. Nice safe spot to leave the boat while I fly home, get the truck and trailer, then come back and get the boat on the trailer. Went to the Norfolk Maritime Museum – awesome! And look, you can stay overnight on the Battleship Wisconsin! And there is the Battleship Wisconsin. Inside the museum now – huge place, three stories. The view of Norfolk on the water from the re-created bridge of a decommissioned naval warship. Part of the actual bridge of the naval warship. Most of the rest of it. The rear guns on Battleship Wisconsin. They are creating an eco-port for container ships here. The ‘brain’ of a communication/fire control station from an old naval warship. Hard to read, but Americas first metal battleship – built in Norfolk in 1895. The shell from the Wisconsin’s guns weight the same as a Beetle. Wisconsin’s front guns. A local IPA from the Taproom. Norfolk Taproom Some good sayings at the Hell’s Kitchen bar in downtown Norfolk. Hard to see, but my IPA, me and the Hell’s Kitchen sign in the window. Hell’s Kitchen Customs House World Trade Center Norfolk Waterfront My view of the naval shipyards from the boat. My route today.