Dismal Swamp

Another day dawns; another adventure begins.

Today we headed off for the Dismal Swamp Canal via the very picturesque Pasquotank River. A beaver, numerous terrapin, Canadian geese and a slithering water snake (too slow with the camera), all spotted to the beat of musical birdsong.

Then we entered a lock and rose 8 feet to exit into the Dismal Swamp Canal. The name bears no semblance to the canal. With eyes peeled for dead heads (sunken logs just under the surface), we crept along at 5 mph.

The waters are pristine although an amazing colour caused by the tannins from trees. The viscosity appears to be like melted chocolate, not black tea. There is a thickness and richness to the water making it impossible to see below the surface. Duckweed is bountiful and makes the most amazing patterns as it swirls along the canal.

At times the distinction between water and sky is seamlessly melded together. The trees have a neon lushness about them. Colours seem enhanced. Blossoms abound low and high.

It is truly a beautiful canal and we have only sailed 4 miles with 18 miles to go. It is dead straight, a uniform 6-7 feet deep and about 40 feet wide with tree tunnels. It was built by slave labour and took 12 years to build. It is the oldest, continuously used canal in the states. We have docked for the night at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Centre with four other boats. The tie up is so small four of the boats have rafted together.

Mark and I walked to the Dismal Swamp State Park, across a small pedestrian bridge spanning the canal. There we watched a short film on the history of the canal and swamp, and walked through the museum. We finished our trip with a stroll on the boardwalk over the swamp. I checked for snakes and bears (can’t be too careful!)

Such is Life!

8 thoughts on “Dismal Swamp

  1. grace and dohee

    Thank you for your picturesque photos
    we are real winter here, and top temperature is 17 C
    you enjoy as much as you can of lovely American summer.


  2. That was so beautifully written. The memories I have of the Dismal Swamp are some of my favourites of the Loop. If I remember correctly there is a lock at the end of the canal. I hope you find the same lock master that was there when we passed…he spent the time leaning on a post and regaling us with stories of the history of the swamp. Fascinating!


    1. marknheather

      Yes, I believe Robert is still at the Norfolk end lock. We have been told about him. Looking forward to meeting him. Dismal Swamp is truly beautiful. Glad we are sailing through it, even if we sustained damage from a couple of days ago to get here.


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