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Old 24-10-2010, 07:05   #16
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36,45.481N 76,18.656w puts you in the canal just a short distance from the northern entrance in Virginia USA.
Wow! Thats quite long, 25nms into North Carolina all though swamps. I'll check it on Google earth later.

The back swamps of North Carloina.... hmmmmm Deliverance country? Hey Bill-Joe-Bob sit on your mothersisters knee and play that harmonica.....

I think I gotta go there
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Old 24-10-2010, 08:23   #17
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The waterfront in Elizabeth City is a very popular stopping point. My parents visited years ago and now it's where we call home.
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Old 24-10-2010, 08:23   #18
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Here are a quilted set of charts for the Dismal Swamp. From the north, it splits to the west from the north/south ICW

Note the "Chesapeake Yachts (free dock)" anchorage right there. We stayed there last fall - it's still a free dock but was just rebuilt and is now in great shape. I'm not sure how much longer it'll be free.

The Dismal Swamp goes west and south to the first lock, Deep Creek Lock used to control water heights from the ICW/Chesapeake Bay

Note the new hazard marker entered this month

That hazard talks about a new pipe across the canal at 4.2' depth as reported by one boater just a few days ago.

Continuing south, the Dismal Swamp/NC welcome center has free docks and is a common place to spend the night

Next south is the South Mills Lock, the southern lock that controls water heights from the other side of Albermarle Sound

Before re-joining the normal ICW, you'll pass through Elizabeth City, known to be one of the most cruiser-friendly towns anywhere.

Those free docks have 19 reviews and average 5 out of 5 stars. It is one of the mostly highly rated places we have on Earth in ActiveCaptain.

And right after that going south is one of the most confusing and dangerous areas (I think) on the entire ICW with a hazard marker

NOAA changed the buoys through there a few years ago and many people have old charts onboard. You also have to follow the buoys in the hazard area and NOT the magenta line drawn on the NOAA chart and shown in the link above. Following the magenta line will put you over an area with less than 5' of depth at most times.
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Old 24-10-2010, 09:11   #19
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And right after that going south is one of the most confusing and dangerous areas (I think) on the entire ICW with a hazard marker here

NOAA changed the buoys through there a few years ago and many people have old charts onboard. You also have to follow the buoys in the hazard area and NOT the magenta line drawn on the NOAA chart and shown in the link above. Following the magenta line will put you over an area with less than 5' of depth at most times.
I have to say that I have never understood this problem. We have been through this area 4 times and all it takes for navigation is lifting your head from the chart plotter and telling your autopilot to stop following the stupid magenta line. The buoys and marked channel are perfectly clear and easy to navigate and it is a short area to pass through. Really no more difficult than navigating up to and through the correct span of a bridge.

But every time we have passed that way, we have gone right past boats aground with towboats pulling them off. And we hear the distress calls every day when we are anchored within radio range.

We once saw one boat HIT a buoy there because it wasn't placed exactly where their chartplotter showed and they were operating the boat from below because it was cold out! They damaged their boat quite a bit and called the Coast Guard to complain about it.

Honestly, the worse seamanship we have ever encountered can be found on the ICW during migration season. We were always happy to get offshore...

Mark
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Old 24-10-2010, 10:37   #20
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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Wow! Thats quite long, 25nms into North Carolina all though swamps. I'll check it on Google earth later.

The back swamps of North Carloina.... hmmmmm Deliverance country? Hey Bill-Joe-Bob sit on your mothersisters knee and play that harmonica.....

I think I gotta go there
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Old 24-10-2010, 10:44   #21
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But every time we have passed that way, we have gone right past boats aground with towboats pulling them off. And we hear the distress calls every day when we are anchored within radio range.

Mark
Mark,

You have to remember that you're close to the start of the ICW and many of the boats are on their first trip south. As the old cliche goes "it's a learning experience". Your draft is about four feet. No need to worry anywhere on the ICW. If your draft is six feet, like many monohulls, it's an entirely different trip down the waterway.
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Old 24-10-2010, 12:35   #22
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Chuck, first it was a 6 1/2' draft boat, now it's a 5 1/2' draft one. Sort of makes a difference for the trawler in question.

What Chuck doesn't know, it seems, is that the Dismal Swamp is maintained at a level of 6'. The reason there are 2 locks is to allow the water level to be controlled at 6'. If it gets higher, the surrounding land floods (generally considered a bad thing). So all the rain-in-Spain ain't gonna effect the water levels there.

But Chuck is right - call them yourself and find out. Or go to the ACE page about it here:
Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway

You'll find that "maintained at 6'" quote in there.

So Chuck, was it really a 6 1/2' draft sailboat that just came through without any problems like you wrote a few posts back?
Not sure why it is confusing that both a 6 1/2 foot sailboat and a 5 1/2 foot power boat both went through without a problem only weeks ago. The point being the depth is there for both right now. 6 foot is not the constant depths and are by no means kept at all times. The ICW is "maintained at 12 feet", and that is a quote, in most areas but we all know that is not always the case. Reliance on any website is no substitute for accurate information from on site observations and measurements. BTW, don't rely on the recorded messages from the Corps Of Engineers, it is incorrect. Be sure and talk to a human being. Better yet contact the locks for the best transit info. Chuck
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Old 24-10-2010, 12:45   #23
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Wow! Thats quite long, 25nms into North Carolina all though swamps. I'll check it on Google earth later.

The back swamps of North Carloina.... hmmmmm Deliverance country? Hey Bill-Joe-Bob sit on your mothersisters knee and play that harmonica.....

I think I gotta go there
Hey Hey! Careful now, I grew up here (literally, Camden/EC). Besides, Deliverance was about the NC mountain country, totally different...

It is very pretty this time of year- have fun and enjoy yourself!

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Old 24-10-2010, 13:49   #24
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Wow!
Thanks for all the info.
We do draw 6ft, I think, but have a full keel protecting the prop that sits in a tunnel. We no longer have the net booms on the boat and need only 22 ft of clearance.
I'm thinking we really have to do this. I'm due for a bottom paint job anyway.
We're anchored in Willoughby Bay just off the Chesapeake at Norfolk and will move on tomorrow.
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Old 24-10-2010, 15:13   #25
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The Great Dismal Swamp

"but can we really pass up somewhere called The Great Dismal Swamp?"

What about Grief Point and Desolation Sound, both in BC?
Great destinations both!
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Old 24-10-2010, 15:26   #26
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Mark,

You have to remember that you're close to the start of the ICW and many of the boats are on their first trip south. As the old cliche goes "it's a learning experience". Your draft is about four feet. No need to worry anywhere on the ICW. If your draft is six feet, like many monohulls, it's an entirely different trip down the waterway.
No debate on that here - I agree. My point was that the area in question is very easily navigable simply by looking at, and following, the well-marked channel. Even people new to the ICW should not have an excuse for setting their autopilot on the magenta line and burying their head in the chartplotter. There is certainly NO excuse for running straight into a buoy. Draft is irrelevant to these points, although I agree that having a 4' draft remedies a lot of anxiety in some places.

As for the Dismal Swamp (to stay on topic), we were last through there in May 2009 and never saw less than 8' (12' in many places), except for a very short area of 6.5' at the feeder ditch (maybe for 30-50'). So the depths do vary a lot more than the quoted 6'. I think the 6' is the minimum depth to which the canal is maintained.

Logs, though, are another topic entirely. Even at 4' draft, we hit a couple. I can imagine that it might be like running miles of speed bumps for a deeper draft vessel at times.

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Old 24-10-2010, 15:40   #27
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I think the 6' is the minimum depth to which the canal is maintained.
At the feeder ditch within the last 14 days, one person reported a depth of 4.2' across the channel and another reported 5.2'. It will be fascinating to hear what happens when a 6' draft steel vessel crosses that area.

lorenzo - don't do it.
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Old 24-10-2010, 16:07   #28
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At the feeder ditch within the last 14 days, one person reported a depth of 4.2' across the channel and another reported 5.2'. It will be fascinating to hear what happens when a 6' draft steel vessel crosses that area.

lorenzo - don't do it.
Probably why they are dredging that area right now.

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Old 24-10-2010, 16:54   #29
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At this time of the year South bound traffic has a slight disadvantage. You need to make the bridge openings heading south from Portsmouth if you want to make Elizabeth City by dark by catching the first lock in Deep Creek (it's really deep). If you can catch the last opening and raft off at the visitor center mid way it it is worth the stop over night. Boats raft off all the way across the canal since no traffic can move because of the locks.

The river both in and out of the canal are quite scenic and the trip to Elizabeth City is even better with the fall color now getting good. Elizabeth City will from now for a period of a few weeks have about anything that can act as a dock being used. The whole town offers spots to tie up. It's a nice town to stop in.

It would be worth a side trip going through the alternate route to Coinjock then back up the Albermarle and beyond Elizabeth City. There are depth issues but the more serious issue is floating or slightly submerged logs. We did the loop last fall in November and had a great time. Nights can be cool but the sun shines warm in the day time. Lots to see in the Albermarle for those headed south. If you can delay till mid November there can be good weather even if the nights get below 50 F. Just getting off the main route south gets you into some nice places.

We did the northern direction through the swamp and it really is best with the fall color. It's not dismal at all. Even just a trip to Elizabeth City is worthwhile if you don't take the swamp route. Lots of great anchorages upstream for any boat north of Elizabeth City. Below the city it's wide with little protection. It all changes dramatically at the town. Clearly some of the very best NC has to show this time of year.
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Old 24-10-2010, 16:59   #30
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