Dismal Swamp Welcome Center - Click for Chartview
Obviously each boater makes their own decisions but the Dismal is my absolute preference over the Va Cut. that said I am a shallow draft boat (3′) and have keel protected props. I have found that there are different risks for both routes depending upon your individual boat. We always thump something coming thru the Dismal but so far no damage, and also the Pungo for that matter. The Va Cut bridges are difficult for us to time, as we are a slow boat so we are often waked badly by inconsiderate captains on large yachts transiting the Va. Cut making a schedule. There is commercial traffic on the cut as well and the long narrow channel reach across the Carrituck Sound in weather can be a real bear. I also find that the approaches to the bridges on the upper end of the Virginia Cut has it’s dangers with the stumps lining that narrow channel. Often not visible until they poke out from a wake trough.
So for us the very protected easy relaxing transit of the Dismal is the attraction and it has many more anchoring/docking options than the cut. When weather blocks the crossing of the Albemarle we often hang out at Elizabeth’s (sometimes referred to as Robert’s) Dock between the Swing bridge and the deep creek lock chamber. Deep water extremely protected free dock with easy walking to the town that has everything the cruiser could require in the adjacent shopping Center. No electric and sometimes you can get water if the tap is on. We prefer this spot to trying to jam into Elizabeth City among a backlog of boats trying to wait a weather window.
Again the decision is of course dependent upon your situation and boat.
cruise safe, stay warm but have fun
We agree whole heartedly in preferring the Dismal Swamp route over the Dreadful Currituck Sound route. In our dozen cruises along the east coast we’ve visited the canal 10 times (leaving 2 for the Dreadful route). Same reasons mentioned in the above article, plus the canal and the river leading to it from Elizabeth City is beautiful and unhurried. We’ve never had an issue with our four foot draft. The new nature center is worth a visit.
Bob McLeran/Judy Young
Absolutely agree with the comments above. Add that a visit with Robert Peak, lockmaster at Deep Creek is one of the pleasures of the trip. For a small adventure, take the dinghy, canoe or kayak up the feeder ditch, use the marine railway to get it to lake level and enjoy the almost perfect roundness and natural beauty of Lake Drummond (just be sure to note a landmark so you can find your way back off the lake).
If you visit the state park and walk or bicycle on the trails, take seriously the warning about Lyme disease carrying deer ticks. We didn’t and had multiple tick bites resulting in a round of antibiotics when we reached home a few days later.
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