ICW 14 – The Dismal Swamp


Today was a nice day – as in, no stress, no long runs, just a dismal swamp. I usually like to come up with a catchy title for each post, but I think I’ll just go with the name of the place we’re at…

Day 10 – Newport, NC to Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, NC, 56 miles, 5 hours

Yep – it was a nice causal day – after we left Alligator River Marina we ran across Alligator River (duh), up along Albermarle Sound before turning into the Pasquotank River, past Elizabeth City and eventually angled into the Dismal Swamp Canal. The two locks that control the water level in the canal – one each at the north and south ends – only open at 8:30, 11:00, 1:30, and 3:00, so you are either there or you wait. We got to South Mills Lock, the southern lock, at 10:50. Perfect. We waited for five minutes with a sailboat for the lock to open and then ran in. The Dismal Swamp Canal is pretty amazing – from its rust colored water to its primitive beauty to its absolute stillness, this often overlooked final section of ICW shouldn’t be missed. It’s a no wake zone the entire way (we’re a 20 knot boat, whereas no wake means 5 knots), but really, it’s only about 30 miles long, so what’s the hurry?




We tied up at the midway point – at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center – along with the sailboat. Dockage is free here (no power, but free WiFi and water) and they give you loaner bikes to explore the Dismal Swamp Park if you wish.



photo 4We took advantage of the bikes and rode the 6 miles back to South Mills to Williams Strawberry Farm and Bakery where we bought some goodies for dinner (more on that in a second).

photo 3 photo 2

But before that I wanted to introduce Rupert and Richard, the two guys from the sailboat. A Welshman and a Brit (Richard, forgive me if I’m wrong there!), they were bringing Sandpiper, Rupert’s sailboat, up from Marathon in the Florida Keys (and that has traveled the likes of Cuba and Mexico). We shared some beers and stories with them in the air conditioned comfort of Sequel’s helm deck before we parted ways. Nice guys. I told them I’d pass along their Facebook pages. Rupert’s is “Voyages of the Ketch Sandpiper” and Richard’s is “Realms of the Day”.

(Richard and Rupert)


Though the bugs were a bit crazy, such can be said for the crew of Sequel, and we grilled (well, Amy grilled and I ate) some tasty local “salmon” (we suspect trout), a dozen amazing shrimp, the freshest corn ever, and topped it off with a sweet potato biscuit and some Gruner (side note – we shipped two cases of wine ahead of time. We’re almost out…).

photo 1 (1)

(Here’s where we are tonight – that little blob of blue in a mass of land…)

That’s it – tomorrow marks the last handful of miles (28 to be exact) of the ICW, then we’re on our own to find the rest of our way north. What do we do? Run outside? Run up the Chesapeake then down Delaware Bay?  Where do we stop? Do we stop, or do we simply set a course for magnetic 90?

Stay tuned…

But first, enjoy today’s video compilation

Till the Chesapeake


<– Back to ICW 13


7 Comments on “ICW 14 – The Dismal Swamp

  1. Pingback: ICW 13 – Keep on Truckin… | john h hanzl

  2. Hey guys! Thanks for the amazing coverage! The first picture below reminds me of Mirror Lake in CA. Nice shot!
    Enjoy and keep the posts coming as it is the highlight of my morning while stuck in the office!


    Bea Fischer-Bean
    Charles River Associates
    200 Clarendon Street, T-32
    John Hancock Tower
    Boston, MA 02116-5092
    email: bfischer@crai.com
    direct: 617-425-3311
    fax: 617-425-3132


  3. mon dieu! deja vu! how did you get to the canal du midi via the icw?! how are the croissants?

    this blog is some good reading, keep it up. = ]

    au revoir!


  4. Pingback: ICW 15 – Uncharted Waters (not really) | john h hanzl

  5. Pingback: ICW 26 – Wrapping It All Up | john h hanzl (author)

  6. Pingback: Sequel On The ICW: Home Sweet Home (BLOG/VIDEO) | | PassageMaker

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