A dismal time for the Dismal Swamp Canal is coming to a close. Shut down to boat traffic since hurricane Matthew passed over last fall, the Army Corps of Engineers says the old canal will reopen with the month.
Crews are still dredging the canal but the major work of removing the downed trees, 350 of them, has been accomplished.
This is great news for this fall's snowbird, boats heading south for the winter. No longer used for commercial traffic, the canal is narrower than the ICW and for the most part lined by tall trees along the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. Scenic and peaceful, a lot of cruisers choose this alternate route for heading south.
This is great news for Elizabeth City, located at the southern end of the canal. Boats coming down the canal bring people, and of course people bring money. So it is good for the restaurants and other businesses in Betsy Town. But boats passing through is more than business for the little southern town, it is part of the culture. There was a tradition, and I hope it continues, called the Rose Buddies. This dates back a decade or two when a couple locals would come down to the free docks on the waterfront and welcome cruisers with roses, wine and cheese. The original rose buddies have passed away, but as of at least a couple years ago the evening receptions for boaters were still being held.
On my list of sails I still have plans for a local circumnavigation. It would involve a fair amount of motoring with a little sailing mixed in, heading south on the Dismal Swamp Canal, sailing down the Pasquotank River to Albermarle Sound and then over to North River to head north along the ICW and back home. Someday...