Dismal Swamp

Stephen and Roberta Arnold
Tue 10 Aug 2010 02:22

36:30.4047N 076:21.3547W


Monday August 9, 2010 9:30 PM


So we delayed our departure but leaving yesterday or today we still planned on spending tonight in the same place, just our arrival time was later.


We are stopped along the edge of the Dismal Swamp at a visitor center/park entrance. The dock is here as a place for transient boats to stay for the night, and it’s free.


The Dismal Swamp canal is 70 ft wide, but only the center 40 ft is maintained at the minimum depth of 6 ft. We need 5.5 ft so I try not to look at the depth gauge. Here’s what it looks like. The  bridge in the picture is over a mile away.




The canal also has a lock on each end so we got to do our very first locking. It was a non event.




You’ll notice from the first picture the trees extend over the canal. We had to swerve to miss something in the water and a tree tried to bite our boat.  Fortunately he didn’t get much of it and we escaped with just leaves and twigs on the deck and a little in the rigging.



One thing that astonished us was the change in water color once as we entered the Albermarle Sound. The water turned a dark brown color. Not knowing what to think of it we did a little research and learned that the amber-colored water is said to be unusually pure, preserved by the tannic acids from the bark of the juniper, gum and cypress trees. Bacteria cannot grow and  in the days before refrigeration, water from the swamp was a highly prized commodity on sailing ships. It was put in kegs and would stay fresh a long time. People spoke of the magical qualities of the coffee-colored water.


Tomorrow we’ll be out of the Dismal Swamp and in Norfolk VA.