Sunday, March 29, 2009

headed north

I've been caught a few times lately at the old swing bridge on the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal near my house.  Yesterday I had to wait while five boats, one sail boat and four offshore power boats, passed down the canal.  I don't particularly like waiting at the bridges, but I do like what the boat traffic means.  Spring is here and the snowbirds - boaters that take their boats south for the winter to Florida and points beyond  - are heading back north.  We will have a few more cold spells, but it is getting to be time for flip flops, tee shirts and sailing.
Above is the old Dismal Swamp Canal in Deep Creek.  There are two canals that connect Chesapeake Bay with the North Carolina Sounds.  The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal is the larger of the two and gets the most traffic, anything from pleasure boats to barges and other commercial vessels.  The Dismal Swamp Canal, which runs down the east side of the (unfortunately named )Dismal Swamp, is the older canal.  Narrow, with overhanging trees on either side, it is a very pretty trip (that is the Dismal Swamp Canal in the bottom photo).  I made the passage from Deep Creek down to Elizabeth City in North Carolina and back a few years ago with my friend Paul aboard his Tartan sailboat (you can see his boat just to the right of the red navigation light in the photo above).  Peaceful and quiet, it was a great trip.  I'm sure there is a cruise there for Spartina some day.  Maybe head from Deep Creek down the Dismal Swamp Canal to Elizabeth City, down the Pasquotank River and over to the North Landing River, and then back home via the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal.  I'll add that idea to the list.
Those are snow geese.  They winter on Back Bay and Currituck Sound, feeding during the day on the thousands of acres of nearby farm fields in North Carolina.  They are heading north too.

A Correction

I mentioned a few posts ago that Bruce and I had made the same trip that the EC kayakers are proposing for a North Carolina Watertribe event.  For the most part I was correct.  But now that I look a little more closely at the charts I see that they are taking a different canal from the Neuse River to the Beaufort area.  Bruce and I took the ICW, also known as the Adams Creek Canal.  That portion of trip was fine, scenic in areas, marinas and waterfront homes in other places.  The EC'ers are looking at taking the Harlowe Canal, which is older, narrower, and (from the looks of google maps) much less populated.  My charts show a depth one foot at low tide in some areas, plus a couple of low fixed bridges (interesting for sailboats that participate).  These are the folks that race through the narrow creeks and channels of the Everglades Wilderness Waterway.  It makes sense that they would choose the path less travelled. 



Perry Burton said...

That is one cool shot of the sailboat heading up/down that lane. Not a rock in sight. To be boating in that area must be next best thing to heaven.

DancesWithSandyBottom said...

I believe the Harlowe canal was selected for several reasons: it provides a small-boat "filter", it poses interesting challenges for the sailboats, it avoids the boat traffic inherent to the ICW. The kayakers may prefer it to the ICW. Tidal flows in the Harlowe cannal can reach at least 2mph in either direction and the depth of the canal changes with tides. I expect the sailboats will be doing some rowing over much of the (approx) 7-mile length of the canal. (Motors not allowed.) Apparently, there are 3 bridges (fixed). Some of us are planning to give it a try this Spring. Our CS20 "Dawn Patrol" has a draft of 6 inches with the centerboard up.

BlueChart gives depths for the open creek waters at each end of the canal and labels the middle area "Harlowe Canal (1/2 Ft)".

What charts have you seen? Any with close details for the Harlowe canal?


DancesWithSandyBottom said...

p.s. love those great photos in your blog.