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Old 26-07-2015, 10:50   #1
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ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

Cruisers,

Bought a 320 Catalina in Norfolk. ( If the surveys good.) I will be bringing it home to Florida single handed. The plan is to take the ditch south to Albemarle Sound and from there weather will dictate my course. Witch of the two routes is the best time and hassle wise? Chesapeake or Dismal canal.

Thanks in advance, Woody
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Old 26-07-2015, 11:04   #2
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

This time of year the dismal will be dismal! As in HOT. Great to do in the fall but not now. The Va cut route is a little shorter and has more open spaces for a bit of breeze and fewer bugs.
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Old 26-07-2015, 11:55   #3
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

I did the Dismal Swamp route N to S this time last year and I thought it was beautiful. Not hot at all. Lots of shade with the high trees on either side. Stayed overnite tied to the Visitor's Center bulkhead with 2 other boats. Passed no one in the canal proper. That's what I call peaceful. The boat draws 4' 6".


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Old 26-07-2015, 12:21   #4
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

i enjoy the Dismal, but you will have less flexibility (you asked about hassle) because of only 4 lockings per day.
If you don't have the luxury of time...want to transit in one day...with a sailboat you will have to enter on either the first or second locking.
Elizabeth City is nice though....
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Old 26-07-2015, 12:26   #5
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

If single handing (with bucket in cockpit), the easier route would be the swamp. No navigation issues assuming the water level is up, and you can stop halfway at the rest stop at the border, no charge.

The only concern for me would be the lock at the northern end. You will have to prepare ahead of time and think up a plan to handle the lines. Lock keeper may be available to assist but I wouldn't depend on it.

Elizabeth, NC is nice, just south of the swamp. More free dockage.
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Old 26-07-2015, 13:07   #6
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

I found the lock keepers helpful. Have two long lines cleated one bow and one stern. After you enter the lock use a boat hook to pass a loop of each line up to the keeper. He'll loop it over a bollard. From amidships adjust the slack on each line as the water level changes to keep the boat positioned. Not really much hassle. Only two locks. N lock one morning and S lock the next. In Elizabeth City for lunch. $5 shower and a free town slip.


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Old 26-07-2015, 14:37   #7
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

For the Dismal canal trip do you need to step the mast? Is there a height restriction?
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Old 26-07-2015, 15:03   #8
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

My thanks to all here that have posted. I was on the canal website and the Dismal looked interesting. I didn't see anything about mast height restrictions and my draft is only 4'-4" My thinking was if I were to go that way id definitely take the 8:30 first opening. Stopping at the Welcome Center would be a nice break and I could sill make the south lock by that afternoon.

One other question I have that's not on the official site. Is a speed restriction in place other than the lock?

Woody
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Old 26-07-2015, 15:27   #9
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

The dismal has more hazards as in logs and trees hanging over the canal. I tore off my wind instrument while trying to dodge a floating log. I did it once, but have no desire to repeat the experience. There is one nominally 65 foot fixed bridge, but the center light hangs lower. One guy with a 64 foot mast swept his wind instrument, anchor/tricolor, windex, and antenna off. Your boat would probably not have an issue with the bridge unless it has an unusually tall mast for its size.
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Old 26-07-2015, 16:35   #10
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

My boat has a 45' mast height and I had no problems with overhanging trees. No need to unstep the mast. I did get into some tree branches at the Visitor's Center taking a too-direct route to the end of the bulkhead. But the water spigot was right there so I just hosed down the deck. There was one fallen tree we had to dodge, ironically less than a mile from the canal maintenance area.

Did you know the canal was dug with slave labor by hand?


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Old 27-07-2015, 09:39   #11
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

We did the Dismal Swamp S to N this spring. Only a few flys in May. It was shallow and there is one Bridge on the Alligator river that is only 64'. We are 63' 6" high and 5' 8" below. We barely cleared the bridge with relative low wind tide and hit bottom more times than we could count. Also clipped an overhanging tree avoiding a floating piling. We will not go that way again but with your mast and draft you should be fine. Going South we are going open water from the Chesapeake to FL.

Also don't go too fast the whole channel is a no-wake zone and there are many obstacles both floating and below.

Good Luck,

Ed
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Old 27-07-2015, 09:59   #12
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

I enjoy the Swamp
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Old 27-07-2015, 10:33   #13
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

We did our 1st (& last) trip through S-N in July 2014. Lots of thumps & bumps against the keels of our 36 cat drawing 3.9 ft. For cats the issue is channel width - and you have 2 widespread keels - twice the opportunity to find a stump. Yes it was beautiful and calm, and you will get a great history of the canal from the North lock keeper, but once was enough.
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Old 27-07-2015, 10:58   #14
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Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

Been through 5 times in the last 3 years....through in December and April.

4 foot draft..never even a bump.

Only a few boats to pass, but I could see bumping something if there was a lot of 2 way traffic where hugging a side close might be an issue.

I have had to pass felled trees that extended half way across on several occasions...the visitor center personnel were always keen to hear of snags like that.
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Old 27-07-2015, 12:40   #15
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Smile Re: ICW S of Norfolk, Route 1 or 2

Enjoyed the peacefulness of the canal three weeks ago on S to N passage. It was very hot and there is no electricity at Welcome Center. The "Green Meanies" at the center were terrible. Out 48 ft mass did hit the trees as we traveled along the dock at the Center. Loved the food and prices at Lamb's Marina.
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