Friday, October 24, 2014

Not So Dismal

Heading south from Norfolk, VA to the Albemarle Sound of NC can be accomplished two ways on the ICW (intracoastal waterway). In the past we have taken the Virginia cut. This is a straight forward route with just one small lock that raises you less than a foot. It is longer in distance but shorter in time. The Dismal Swamp Canal is the other option. It was constructed in the 1790s. George Washington was a staunch supporter and investor of this hand dug canal. We decided to take the swamp this time to enjoy the scenery and history.

Here we are approaching a lock. The lock tenders also have to operate the lift bridge for you.

The canal, we were told, has a minimum of 7 foot depth down the middle. This was true except for some of those logs laying on the bottom. We managed to thump into a few of them.

You can see some logs along the lush shoreline.

We even saw a little bit of fall color.

The trees would overhang the canal in areas. We had to take care not to clip them with our mast.

The canal is very narrow, sufficient for the 1800s but a little tight for modern day boats.

In most areas there is no room to pass other boats so you follow the same ones into the locks and your speed is set by the slowest boat in front of you.

The slow speed was no problem for us but the power boat behind us was not very happy.

The ICW is known for its tannin stained water that stains the hull of your vessel. The Dismal Swamp has the darkest water we've

We really enjoyed this picturesque route. Will we do it again next year? Stay tuned.


  1. Hi! My family and I have an endeavour 42 and are leaving next year to go south. I see you going through the ICW. Have you had any mast height issues since leaving? I'm curious as I don't have the stock mast in our endeavour and will be measuring it this year to make sure I know exactly how high it is.

    1. Gary
      Standard for E42 is 62'. We've 'sunk' about 6". We have never tickled the antenna on a bridge. Figure that to be 63'6" total. I would not want to do the icw with a mast more than 63'6". There are a few bridges at 64' plus wind driven tides can make it less.
      Join endeavour owners facebook or website groups for more discussions.