Champ III: Going Places

The adventure starts here.

Alligator River Marina to Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, NC — May 5, 2013

Fairly cloudy this morning with a few sun patches but the temps were 50 to start and did not climb much past 60.  We left the marina about 8:00 and headed north.  The wind was out of the Northeast about 15 to 20 mph.

We got back to the Albemarle Sound and the waves were mostly 3′ to 4 ‘ with some 5′ thrown in for good measure.  The going was pretty rough with a lot of bouncing real hard on the large waves.  We had about 12 miles to cross the Sound and the waves started to smooth out just a little after about 4 miles with a good number of the 5′ gone.  By mile 8 all the 5′ were gone and most of the 4′ were gone.  By the time we crossed to the other side it was a nice ride and we followed it all the way into Elizabeth City, NC.

We contacted our friends Don and Kate on Fandango and they had left their marina and were about 4 miles ahead of us on the Pasquotank River.  We continued up the river toward the Dismal Swamp Canal that is essentially a wildlife sanctuary,  The land was originally obtained by George Washington and he and other investors were going to drain it and use the land for farming.  This never worked out and over the years the land changed hands several times.  Finally in the early 20th Century it was donated as a National Park.  There is a lot of decaying vegetation and cypress trees and the water is brown with Tannic Acid.  It is so dark it looks like root beer or coffee. There are locks at each end of the Dismal Swamp as it drains the surrounding country side and is fresh water.  The waterways leading to and from the Dismal Swamp are salt water or brackish water.

We had to wait for the lock because it only opens 4 times a day. There were 3 boats at the lock besides the Champ III. Fandango, A small Pacific Trawler and a sailboat. We locked thru without any problems.  We traveled up the Canal to the visitor center where you can ties up to their docks for free, but there is no power. All 4 boats tied up and took up the whole wall.  Another sailboat heading south arrived about 1 1/2 hours later and had to raft off.

The original north bound sailboat that we locked thru with is from Norway.  There are 3 young men on the boat and they are on a year’s journey from Norway,  They left last August and sail down the European coast and down to Africa and then across the Atlantic to the Bahamas, Cuba and then into the US.  They are now headed north where they will sail past Nova Scotia, Labrador and on to Greenland where they will pick up their 4th crew member and then sail home to Norway.  They need to be back for school in August.  I guess they are doing their own Loop of sorts.  The sailboat is not big, maybe 35’ and it is fairly old but these guys are having a great time.

The Pacific Trawler is an elderly gentleman that is traveling with his dog Tundra.  Tundra is a Great Pyrenees that weighs in at 125 lbs. and is docile and would not hurt a flea.  He looks as big as the boat.