Hampton to the Middle of Nowhere, NC

Well here we are in North Carolina.  The only thing around us besides marsh grass is a house with a wifi connection and another boat.  The other boat appears to be abandoned – we think the solo sailor was carried off by mosquitos.

Peter and Beth joined us on Sunday in Hampton.  After proper storing of gear planning for the next leg of the journy began.


Our crew, Peter and Beth

We left Hampton in cold, overcast, drizzly gray conditions.  We left the Hampton River and watched the Caribbean 1500 boats head to sea as we crossed Hampton Roads to the Elizabeth River. 


Trying to stay warm in the Elizabeth River

Passing the naval station was a humbling experience.  We saw a range of vessels from aircraft carriers to smaller ships.

The Elizabeth River is the beginning of the ICW.  After sailing a short stretch and negotiating some draw bridges we had to chose between the Virgina Cut and the Dismal Swamp routes.  We chose the Dismal Swamp for its scenery and lack of larger vessel traffic.  We weren’t disappointed.  It seemed all the power boats took the Virginia Cut.

The Dismal Swamp channel connects two landlocked areas of Virginia and North Carolina.  Formed out of a need for transportation.  Col. William Byrd, II called the swamp “Dismal”, hence the name.  Construction started after the Revolutionary War and was manually dug by slaves who became so familiar with this ditch that it became an integral part of the Underground Railroad.  It remains the oldest artificial waterway in the US.

The swamp water is coffee colored because of the tannin that leaches out of the Cypress trees.  The Dismal Swamp route has two locks.  We were raised about eight feet in the first lock and dropped the same in the second. 


Locking through

The canal is long and narrow and we had to dodge logs in the water and overhaning branches above. 

We anchored in the creek shortly after the first lock.  It was so narrow we used bow and stern anchors so we wouldn’t swing into shore.


Morning in the Dismal Swamp

The Dismal Swamp ends at Elizabeth City, mile 51 of the ICW.  There the Compass Rose crew was greeted by the “Rose Buddies”, a gangly group of golden agers who helped us tie up in the free slips the town provides.  They were incredibly helpful with information about the town and even gave Eric a ride to the auto parts store to pick up some oil.

Any time there are five or more cruising boats at the dock the Mayor throws an afternoon wine and cheese party on the dock.  We had boat work to do and errands to run so we only made the end of the party.

We left Elizabeth City the next morning and sailed down the Pasquotank River, across Albemarle Sound, and into the Alligator River.  We anchored just before the Alligator narrowed down.

Thursday we spent mostly motoring.  We finished the Alligator River, a canal and entered the Pongo River.  From there we crossed the Pamlico River, went up Goose Creek and down another canal.  We anchored for the night at mile marker 160 at the mouth of the Bay River.

Tomorrow – Oriental.

6 Responses to “Hampton to the Middle of Nowhere, NC”

  1. katie Says:

    Elizabeth city sounds like a fine place to live. How big of a boat do you think they require to qualify for happy hour?? To bad Eric had to get oiled, I mean oil. Your photo of the dismal swamp in the morning is beautiful!!! you should enter it in a photography contest.

  2. Mom Says:

    I think I need a map — or should I say chart? Love the pictures.

  3. Chris & Bill Says:

    Nice photos of the Dismal Swamp. We experienced the original Rose Buddies back in 1988! Glad to hear that their legacy lives on, even though the original two have “crossed the bar”.

    We look forward to seeing you in Oriental on Sunday — if you are still there!

    Chris & Bill

  4. Greg Cantori Says:

    You guys got out while the getting was still a little warmer – we had lots of frost here on the Bodkin….brrrrrrrr
    Great pics bring back fond memories of the ICW….

  5. Maarten van de Geijn Says:

    Ahoy Little Rosie & crew:

    Looks cold out there! Hope some favorable winds will carry you to warmer climes at powerboat speeds. Good luck on the open water passage to Charleston and watch out for the submarines.

  6. Dale Says:

    I hear Jackie ran into Carmen at the airport on Jackie’s way back to the caribean. Small world, Carmen sails on Avita ocasionally. Hope everything’s going well.

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