NC Cruising News – AICW, Dismal Swamp Route (Statute Mile 26 to 65)
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date.
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date.
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Congratulations Welcome Center! The Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Docks and information are provided at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, A CRUISERS NET SPONSOR and a NC DOT Rest Area facility, located adjacent to the Dismal Swamp State Park, offering trails, exhibits and ongoing programs in Camden County, NC.
Click below for Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Celebrates 30 Years!
The Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Docks and information are provided at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, A CRUISERS NET SPONSOR and a NC DOT Rest Area facility, located adjacent to the Dismal Swamp State Park, offering trails, exhibits and ongoing programs in Camden County, NC.
Park Ranger, Dismal Swamp State Park
NC Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources
252 771 6593
2294 US 17 N | South Mills, North Carolina 27976
Experienced cruiser and frequent Cruisers Net contributor Jim Healy shares his observations on the two route choices south of Norfolk. The Virginia Cut is part of the main AICW route via Great Bridge Lock and the Dismal Swamp Canal is the alternate route departing northeast Albemarle Sound northbound via Pasquatank River, Elizabeth City and South Mills Lock. The Canal rejoins the AICW at statute mile 7.1.
There are so many considerations… To say nothing of personal preferences…
The two routes are the “Virginia Cut” and the “Dismal Swamp.” There is no significant difference in the distances of the two routes, but the Dismal takes longer. The Virginia Cut can be done in one day. The Dismal Swamp route can be done in one day, but more usually will take two or more. It depends on what you want to see and do.
The Virginia Cut is a salt-water route suited to fast boats and boaters who are “in a hurry.” It is the eastern route, the “main” ICW, runs through Coinjock, where there are marinas, is used by go fast boats with big wakes and inconsiderate operators, and has a couple of bridges that can bring the pace to a prolonged stop. There is one lock at Great Bridge in Chesapeake, VA, that has about an 18″ lift. That bridge operates on the hour. It’s tidal north of Great Bridge.
What’s good about the route?
3. Southern 1/4 of the route is beautiful.
The Dismal is a fresh water route through a cypress swamp with some old growth deciduous trees. It is the western route, suited to slow boats and boaters who are very comfortable taking their time. There are two locks, one at South Mills, NC, and on at Deep Creek, VA. Lift is about 8′, depending on Lake Drummond datum and tide on the north end. The locks operate 4 times a day, at 8h30, 11h00, 13h30 and 15h30. It’s 22 StM from South Mills to Deep Creek. If you clear into the system at 08h30, you have 5 hours to make the 22 miles to Deep Creek, which is less that 5 mph. There is a 6 mph speed limit on the canal. No wakes.
We are an 8 MPH boat. We depart Elizabeth City at 06h00 to clear into the system at South Mills at 08h30. People (usually sailboats) also anchor in the channel at the South Mills Lock if they can’t get going by 06h00. Anchoring in the channel is legal in the overnight when the locks are closed, but you must not interfere with traffic during the day.
The Dismal control depth is 6-1/2 ft. The usable width of the Canal is probably 70 feet. The crown of the forest does overhang the canal, and sailboats – all boats, really – will take their half out of the middle. There are some submerged logs. The trick is to stay 3/4 mile behind the boat in front of you – if there is a boat in front of you – so that anything that boat lifts off the bottom will settle back to the bottom before you get to that spot. No boat in front of you, just go slow. Many people complain of bumping something in the dismal. Many of them are “tailgating” boats in front of them. How to I know? I’ve see it over and over again.
What’s in the water in the dismal?
2. Visible dead heads ranging in size from twigs to logs
3. Submerged larger stuff
4. Wildlife and sea monsters
We prefer the Dismal. We take our time. We enjoy the peace and quiet. We rarely hit anything, and we never hit anything at speeds above idle.
What’s better about the route?
1. Elizabeth City
2. No wakes, boater courtesy
3. NC Visitors Center and Nature Center
4. Ample free docking (albeit w/o services)
5. Robert Peek
6. The magnificent scenery and wildlife of the Pasquatank River
If you draw 5′ or less, you won’t have a problem. If you are patient, you won’t have a problem. If you stay well behind the boat in front of you, you won’t have a problem.
Yes, this has all been discussed many times. It’s a natural and inevitable part of the AGLCA spring ritual.
Jim and Peg Healy
Monk 36 Hull #132
CRUISERS NET SPONSOR IN VIRGINIA CUT ROUTE
Click Here To View the VA to NC Cruisers Net Marina Directory Listing For Atlantic Yacht Basin
CRUISERS NET SPONSOR IN DISMAL SWAMP CANAL
Click Here To View the North Carolina Cruisers Nets Marina Directory Listing For the Camden TDA/Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center
Things that go bump… Normally, the ride through Dismal Swamp is best described as idyllic and unforgettable, but because of its heavily wooded banks, dredging in the Canal can sometimes stir up more than the usual amount of debris. It is unfortunate that vessels occasionally make contact in the Canal, even when no dredging is underway. Our thanks to Loopers Jeffrey and Cathy, Richard and Terrie for sharing their recent experiences with us. Dismal Swamp Canal is home to Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, A CRUISERS NET SPONSOR.
We came through the Dismal Swamp today and to tell the truth, I can’t recommend the route at all. We went through with three boats. One boat which draws 5ft struck submerged logs numerous times and bent the prop. Our Mainship 40, which draws four feet, struck something twice and ran over a dredge hose in the canal. There is a dredge working the canal but he has a plastic pipe across the canal and I asked him to submerge it. He came back on the radio and said he did sink it. I went over it and hit it both with the bow and my prop. If you take this route please use caution. If I had to do it over again, I would go the Virginia cut. Good luck.
Jeffrey and Cathy Guttenberger
2005 Mainship 400
We came past the dredge a few minutes ago and had no problems … we draw 4.5 feet. The dredge operator was very helpful and contacted us after we passed to ask if we had hit anything. I think he was feeling bad about yesterday’s incidents. My depth finder alarm was set at 6’ and never went off. The lowest depth I remember seeing was 7.2’. We did bump something a couple times but for us it wasn’t a big deal.
Richard & Terrie Dukes
Director of the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, Donna Stewart, offered this response:
A boater mentioned this second hand to us yesterday, but I had not had any complaints…..at all. We have been consistently asking people, and also have checked in with Robert [Lock master]. Of course, most of our boats are heading north right now, with a few southbound. I’m sorry to hear this report…… After the wind on Friday, we had a report of a tree down at mm19 on Saturday morning, but all boats got through and I’m aware the contractor came and cut the tree to clear passage. I’ve had so many positive comments this season, and it has been so good. This is disappointing.
All the comments we have received from boaters have been very positive, which has been encouraging and we have asked. We are advising boaters the company is monitoring Channel 72 and please contact them for any information in moving through. I’m sorry to hear someone had issues.
Traveling south, the Dismal Swamp Canal route exits the Waterway westward immediately south of the I-64 fixed bridge at statute mile 7.1. No wake is already the recommended speed for the narrow canal, not only for safety, but for the enjoyment of the natural surroundings. Extra caution is required in the vicinity of the dredge equipment with a reminder that dredging can stir up logs and debris, so even more caution for your vessel is required.
VA – INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – GREAT DISMAL SWAMP CANAL – DREDGING
PCI Dredging LLC will be conducting dredging operations in the Great Dismal Canal from 22 Feb until approximately 30 Mar 2019 [Dredging is still underway as of 5/1]. Dredged material will be placed in the Upland USACE CDF on the westside of the Canal. Work vessels may be contacted on VHF-FM channels 13 and 16. Mariners are urged to transit at the slowest safe speed to minimize wake and proceed with caution after passing arrangements have been made. Pipeline and vessels will be marked pursuant to Coast Guard regulations. Submerged pipeline will be positioned parallel and adjacent to the shoreline of the federal channel thence traversing upland and west into the CDF. For more information or question contact Kent Petersen at 715-356-7311. Chart 12206 LNM 07/19
Dismal Swamp Canal Dredging to Begin
Coastal Review Online
AREA CRUISERS NET SPONSOR
Whether you are traveling north or south, the rivers and communities that frame the Albemarle Sound are inviting you to explore their shores and experience their warm southern hospitality. A community of marine businesses and historical locations, located on and around the Albemarle Sound of North Carolina, have organized to serve boaters through the Albemarle Loop. For more see FOCUS ON Albemarle Loop. Our thanks to Sam Giovinazzi for this invitation to Albemarle Sound Marina Festivals!
The 2019 Albemarle Loop cruisers program will include the Albemarle Sound Marina Festivals, April 26-June 9, 2019. For information, see Life on the Loop www.albemarleloop.com and www.facebook.com/AlbemarleLoop. These web sites are the GOTO locations for the Events Calendar. Thirteen marinas are grouped together promoting Food, Arts, Fairs, Festivals, Waterfront Communities around Albemarle Sound. If you are interested in adding a www.albemarleloop.com link to your web site contact me at Felix “Sam” Giovinazzi, email@example.com, 858 414 8727.
The 51 House at Wharf Landing
Columbia Municipal Marina
Hertford Bay Marina
The Pelican Marina
Yacht Doc@ Cypress Cove
Elizabeth City Mariners Wharf**
Plymouth Landing Marina
Alligator River Marina
Dismal Swamp Visitors Center**
Shallowbag Bay Marina
Waterside Marina Downtown Norfolk
** CRUISERS NET SPONSORS
Looking forward to working with you
Marketing and Sales Director
Looks like a record number of boats rafted up at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Docks. Area information is provided at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, A CRUISERS NET SPONSOR and a NC DOT Rest Area facility, located adjacent to the Dismal Swamp State Park, offering trails, exhibits and ongoing programs in Camden County, NC. See November Programs at Dismal Swamp State Park, AICW Alternate Route.
We are not back to normal numbers, but after being closed for so long, it has been so nice to host boaters again in the Dismal Swamp Canal. This photo was taken by Jeff Byrd for Camden TDA at the end of October. We are enjoying meeting traffic by waterway again and we have talked to a lot of great people! Sigh!
Donna Stewart, Director
Dismal Swamp Welcome Center
2356 US Hwy 17N
South Mills, NC 27976
Phone – 252-771-8333
Bird, Bike, Hike…..take in the sights!
This deadhead is off Bluff Point on the southwest side of the Waterway’s Dismal Swamp route through the Pasquatank River south of Elizabeth City, NC. As posted by John and Donna Bedell on Bob423.
Socially Sea Cured just passed a dead head right off of green marker number 3 off Bluff Point heading from Elizabeth City towards the Albemarle. it was sticking maybe a foot out of the water but when it was directly in line with the sun it was almost impossible to see it.
John and Donna Bedell
A big thank you to Jim Healy for this warning is from today’s Healy Report as Sanctuary makes way south.
AT THE FEEDER DITCH AND AGAIN IMMEDIATELY SOUTH OF THE SOUTH MILLS LOCK, THERE ARE POSTS PAINTED RED AND GREEN THAT MARK A NARROWED CHANNEL. HONOR THOSE POSTS.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
Monk 36 Hull #132
Experienced cruisers, Jim and Peg Healy, continue to generously share their observations and advice as they make their way south for the winter. Thank you Jim and Peg! Belhaven, A CRUISERS NET SPONSOR, sits on the northern shore of Pantego Creek which meets the western shoulder of the Waterway at Mile 135 south of the Alligator River – Pungo River Canal.
Today is Thursday 19/18, 05h15 hrs…
Sanctuary and crew transited the Dismal Swamp Canal from Chesapeake, VA to Elizabeth City, NC on Tuesday, 10/16. There is about a mile of duckweed in the canal south of the Deep Creek lock. South of the South Mills lock, there are several miles of duckweed across the canal. Our engine cooling water intake is about 30″ below the waterline, and we had no issues with the sea strainer.. AT THE FEEDER DITCH AND AGAIN IMMEDIATELY SOUTH OF THE SOUTH MILLS LOCK, THERE ARE POSTS PAINTED RED AND GREEN THAT MARK A NARROWED CHANNEL. HONOR THOSE POSTS. The canal carried at least 7′ of water, and we had zero bangs and bumps. We traveled with four other boats, and they made me the lead dog. The trick to avoid bangs and bump is to SPREAD OUT. Follow the boat in front of you by 1/2 to 3/2 mile, so if prop wash does bring something off the bottom, it has tome to settle back down before you get to it.
We traveled from Elizabeth City to Belhaven on Wednesday, 10/17. BE ADVISED that in the Alligator-Pungo Canal at approximately MM116-117, there is a LARGE DEADHEAD in almost the visual center of the canal. It is easy to spot, as it sticks up at least a foot above the water line. It appears to be the remains of a piling.
We’re staying on the Belhaven City Docks. They take reservations, but many treat this as first come first served. It is full tonight, but we did get our reserved space.
There is ample 30A power available all along the dock, and self-serve pumpout. This is an excellent option at $1.00/ft and $5.00 for electric.
Goal for today is Morehead City.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary, currently at Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, FL
Monk 36 Hull #132
Despite the passage of Hurricane Michael through the area, the canal and locks are open, according to our good friend, Matt the Bridge Tender in Chesapeake City. The Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Docks and information are provided at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, A CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR and a NC DOT Rest Area facility, located adjacent to the Dismal Swamp State Park, offering trails, exhibits and ongoing programs in Camden County, NC.
I just checked with Deep Creek Locks (Friday 10/12 at 8:55 AM) and they said the Dismal Swamp Canal route is open. They recommend a draft of no more than 6 feet.
Matt the Bridge Tender
This ICW light is off Bluff Point on the southwest side of the Waterway’s Dismal Swamp route through the Pasquatank River south of Elizabeth City, NC.
1. THE FOLLOWING AID TO NAVIGATION HAS BEEN CHANGED AND RELOCATED.
A. PASQUATANK RIVER LIGHT 3 (LLNR 31405) RELOCATED TO APPROX POSIT 36-12-10.531N, 076-04-03.902W AND CHANGED TO PASQUATANK RIVER WRECK LIGHT WR3 (LLNR 31405).
Our thanks to AGLCA friends, Karen and Lee McClellan and Artie Ortmann, for these good words for three of our North Carolina SPONSORS: Albemarle Plantation, Edenton and Elizabeth City. See Albemarle Loop.
I so agree with Janice! We did the Albemarle Loop in May and it was incredible. Our first stop was Albemarle Plantation, everyone was so so gracious and hospitable. You have access to all the amenities club restaurants, pool, laundry, tennis etc. Next we went to Edenton, a great historical town with good restaurants and shops. We visited the local coffee shop both mornings and met some of the movers/shakers of the town (retired guys); they were fun to talk to. The next stop was Elizabeth City: the Albemarle Bay Museum, great restaurants and, of course, the memorial to the famous “Rose Buddies”. It is so worth doing the Albemarle Loop, one of the highlights of our (AGLCA) loop. I do believe that 5’ drafts can be accommodated in all the Marinas we stayed in and certainly 15.5’ beams. It is so worth the time spent and only dockage cost is electricity. We highly recommend the trip to all loopers.
Karen and Lee McClellan
2 boats one 50 and one 47 just completed the Albemarle loop and found no problems with 15+ beams and 4+ drafts great stops in Washington, edenton ( don’t miss vinyl night), Albemarle plantation and last year in Elizabeth city, ocracoce and manteo some of the best stops on the loop can’t wait to repeat some and Columbia don’t miss this side trip it is great and no problems.
Elizabeth City, A CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR and the friendliest-to-boaters community on the Waterway, is located on the Pasquotank River off the northeast corner of Albemarle Sound and at the southern end of the Dismal Swamp Canal Route. With the canal fully open to navigation, this wonderful community continues its calendar of exciting events, making a stop at Mariners Wharf in the heart of Elizabeth City a must!
Our thanks to William Spaur for bringing this to our attention. Deep Creek Basin is on the south shore of the Dismal Swamp Route east of Deep Creek Lock.
The COVE on Deep Creek, the Deep Creek Basin, is now being developed by RYAN HOMES and has been named BRYAN’S COVE. The land and the water are now NO TRESPASSING.
Deep Creek Cove is near the junction of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and Deep Creek waterway, Chesapeake VA. It has always been a favorite anchorage for boats transiting the Dismal Swamp Canal. It is a borrow pit vintage 1962 to develop Interstate 64. It is the size of a city block and connected to Deep Creek by a narrow channel.
Our thanks to AGLCA members for this nice thread regarding their recent experiences navigating the Great Dismal Swamp Canal and visiting Elizabeth City, both CRUISERS’ NET SPONSORS! The Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Docks and information are provided at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, a NC DOT Rest Area facility, located adjacent to the Dismal Swamp State Park, offering trails, exhibits and ongoing programs in Camden County, NC. Elizabeth City and Mariners Wharf is located on the Pasquotank River off the northeast corner of Albemarle Sound and at the southern end of the Dismal Swamp Canal Route.
We came thru Dismal 10 days ago…water was less beautiful as lots of pollen on water then. Also additional risk to prop hitting submerged snags, but you are seeing history on rivers & canal trip. You also get to soend a couple minutes with Bob at the North Lock! BOB is a HERO to boaters. At North end of locks if you are there early you can tie up to landing before draw bridge before lock and do a quick shop in the Supermarket a block east or run over to Pizza + for an exceptional lunch.
The dismal swamp is used by slow boats with no schedule. The is a six Stm per Hour speed limit, and the dockmaster will enforce that. It is shallow, but a 6′ draft boat without exposed running gear can easily do it without issues. I recommend that boats not follow another boat at less than 1/2 to 3/4 mile. That way, if the first boat does pick up debris off the bottom, that debris will have time too settle back down before the following boat arrives.
We came through the Dismal Swamp a month ago. It’s our preferred route for the reasons cited by Ben and Brenda. We had no issues.
There are locks at Deep Creek (the lockmaster at Deep Creek is ROBERT Peek, not Bob.) and South Mills. The locks operate four times per day, at 08h30, 11h00, 13h30 and 15h30. The distance between the locks is 22 miles. There is no good place to hold station at either end, so the strategy is to travel at 5 StM per Hour to avoid getting there early. There are no wakes. The Dismal Swamp canal is narrow, and in general, passing is probably inappropriate. Fast boats do not use the Dismal Swamp.
The Albemarle and Chesapeake route is used by go-fast boat with no courtesy for slower vessels. Two of the drawbridges have been replaced, but there are still several bridges that operate on 1/2 hour or 1 hour schedules. The is one lock, at Great Beidge. It operates on an hourly schedule. You will get waked by go fast boats. Secure for that stretch as if you are going offshore in nasty weather conditions.
Hope this is useful,
Hands down, Dismal Swamp Canal. Only recrational boats, and not many, in Our experience. Beautiful, serene, lots of birds, turtles, deer. Don’t miss it! The Virginia Cut (which includes Coinjock) is fine, but lots of commercial traffic and sports fisherman.
To add to our original post, if you are opting for the swamp canal and plan to stay at the city’s free Mariner’s Wharf, I think it has a 48 or 72 hour limit. That in mind, the 4th of July and Independence Day festivities are approaching so you might want to scurry in. There are a couple of marinas but have never used them. We happened to be in Elizabeth City on the 4th several years ago and the fireworks were launched off a barge a 100 yards or so behind the docks towards the sound so pull bow in. There will also be festivities on the lawn adjoining to waterfront. Haven’t been there for two years and the only concern was the old crooked mooring pilings but they may have replaced them by now when the new bridge was built.
I Stand corrected… I think the Rose Buddy welcome crew was re-birthed. The lady of the boat was welcomed with a fresh cut rose grown on sight.
Went through 3 days ago. Beautiful narrow and shallow. Bumped something 8 to 10 times. Have 3 ft draf and protected props. Stayed overnight at welcome center. Have plenty bug spray and fly swatter the green flies are terrible and hurt. We enjoyed the slow beautiful trip.
Elwyn & Carol Segres
We came through yesterday and today and overnighted at the visitors centre. Lowest water we saw was 6.5 ft but we smacked a couple of large logs, the worst of which was 1.5 miles north of the visitors Center. We sat on idle for most of the trip so we don’t think we stirred them up but we do draw 5ft.
Great trip but we will go the Virginia Cut on the way south.
We came through in April and anchored off Goat Island because the southern lock was down for the day. Then rafted with 5 other boats at the Visitor Center and waited out a severe storm for two nights. Dodged a bit of flotsam along the way. But would not have missed this part of the journey for all the steak in the world – the trip through the swamp is simply magical.
AND Lockmaster Bob is a skilled musician with a conch shell – if you have one on board, pass it up and ask for a tune or two.
Breandon and Kathleen
When traveling down the Dismal Swamp, stay to the center of the channel OR drop your VHF antenna if it has an air draft of >=22ft. We wandered to the side and tore ours off 3 years ago. Forgot about the overhead clearance of the tree branches! Otherwise, it was a very nice trip.
Our thanks to Jan Irons for these beautiful photos and report from the Dismal Swamp Canal. During this cruise, Jan visits two of our favorite CRUISERS’ NET SPONSORS, Dismal Swamp Welcome Center and Elizabeth City, NC.
“Drain The Swamp” … Geo Washington 1763
Posted: 13 May 2018 04:00 AM PDT
Did you know George Washington was the first “Drain the Swamp” supporter? The Great Dismal Swamp, that is … now a historic landmark. After the frenetic pace of the past 5 weeks winding our way north on the Atlantic ICW, the Dismal Swamp route felt so effortless. Just peace and quiet, serene waters and reflections.
This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now
Jan Irons, Commuter Cruiser
The Albemarle Sound and the Albemarle Loop
In the jargon of the cruising community, “Enjoy the journey not just the destination”. Okay, that is often the case, but don’t you love it when both the journey and destinations are equally enjoyable? Whoever said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” never was part of a cruising or boating family.
For those who don’t live in or near North Carolina, as you pass through North Carolina there is so much to be enjoyed that is not along the shores of the ICW. Like it’s sister cruising waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the many rivers and creeks along the shores of North Carolina’s sounds are dotted with waterfront communities that invite you to explore the local culture, foods, and history. The area’s heritage dates back over 300 years. The callings of the Roanoke, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Croatan, and Chowan, are inviting you into a new cruising adventure. Learn how Native Americans lived in this resource rich area; follow in the wake of the area’s first English settlers; visit where 51 women signed their real names to a document sent to King George that they planned to boycott all British goods. This was to be known as the “Edenton Tea Party”.
Whether you are traveling back north for the summer, or making plans for this Fall’s trip south, the rivers and communities that frame the Albemarle Sound are inviting you to explore their shores and experience their warm southern hospitality.
A community of marine businesses and historical locations, located on and around the Albemarle Sound of North Carolina, have organized to serve boaters through The Albemarle Loop, https://www.albemarleloop.com
This group of marine businesses and waterfront towns have joined together to educate and invite the area boaters and cruising enthusiasts to “enjoy the journey and the destinations,” to be their guests, and to let the area’s warm hospitality, culture, and history be part of your personal enjoyment.
And while you are doing so, you can earn points towards rewards for free nights at their participating marinas. Points earned accrue from year to year and when you reach certain levels you earn levels of what is known as “Cruising Passport Member Levels” which start at “Surveyor” and go up to “Explorer” and “Voyager”.
Check out the program at this link and get your passport: https://www.albemarleloop.com/cruisingmem.html.
Check out this link to see all the discounts and other rewards available from participating businesses located at or near participating marinas: https://albemarleloop.com/coupons.html
How’s that for welcoming hospitality??
Participating marinas will be in italics with an asterisk, eg. *Albemarle Plantation.
To pick up or print coupons use this link to the The Albemarle Loop website: https://albemarleloop.com/MARINA%20Coupons%202018%20v8.pdf
Since we are currently in the late months of Spring, let’s assume most of our readers have the pointed end of their vessels to the north. You will find Albemarle Sound as you leave the Pamlico Sound, either through the Pungo River into the ICW Canal and into the Alligator River or to the west or east of Roanoke Island around Manteo, NC.
One of your starting points into the Albemarle Loop experience might be *Shallowbag Bay Marina on the east side of Roanoke Island in Manteo, NC. You are within easy walking distance to the most interesting town of Manteo, NC. Near by is the seasonal outdoor presentation of the “Lost Colony.” If you are inclined to stick to the ICW route, leaving Pamlico Sound into the Pamlico River, then into the Pungo River and through the ICW Canal into the Alligator River, a good place to rest before “looping” is *Alligator River Marina.
If you are headed back towards Chesapeake, most suggest starting this journey on the south side of Albemarle Sound, visiting small towns and villages like Columbia, NC, where your host would be *Columbia Municipal Marina, or * Yacht Doc at Cypress Cove.
Progressing on westward towards the town of Plymouth, your host marina, *Plymouth Landing Marina (City Docks), lies along the upper area of the Roanoke River.
Then head over the north side of Albemarle Sound into Edenton Bay and the charming town of Edenton, NC where you are invited to stay two nights free at *Edenton Harbor Marina. At the Colonial Edenton Downtown Harbor, you can dock while you visit and enjoy this charming town. The Harbor has, within walking distance, many historical homes, restaurants and shops. Lots to do, even a “Ghost Walk” ! Information is available below outlining the rules, regulations and rates for using the docks. Contact: 252-482-2832 (phone) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transient boaters are also welcome to a full service marina, Wharf Landing Marina, but it is not close to the town itself, about five miles west of the town. While in Edenton, you will find many fun places to satiate your yearnings for sea food or other southern culinary delights. But one “particular harbor”, (my Jimmy Buffett, slips in every now and then), where you will want to dine, is *The 51 House. There you can tie up and enjoy some very fine traditional American delights. The old home overlooks Albemarle Sound and is a fine example of a waterfront setting, great food and warm hospitality. It takes its inspiration from Revolutionary War period when 51 women of the local area had “tea” together and drafted, signed, and sent to England a document stating that they would be boycotting all British goods. This would later be known as the “Edenton Tea Party.”
Looking for a place to retire, or to just have that residence on some tranquil, beautiful southern waters, then next stop is *Albemarle Plantation with their full service modern marina. Take a look at some nice home locations and get off the boat to go swimming in their pool or play a round of golf. Catch some awesome sun rises and sunsets. Check out this video link to this pristine location: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt0j-8zCleA&t=18s
Continuing eastwards, you can take a run up the Perquiman River to the town of Hertford and stay at their *Hertford Bay Marina. It’s a nice ride up this river and a quiet place to get some R&R. The marina is small, nine slips with water, shore power for both 30 and 50 amps, waste pump-out, and the first 48 hours are free. Town is historic and has an aggressive program developing the historical homes and places.
On your way north, I highly recommend you experience the Dismal Swamp Canal, and its host city, “The Harbor of Hospitality,” *Elizabeth City, at their *Mariners Wharf which is right in the town proper. Or stay just across the small Hwy 158 bridge at *The Pelican Marina, which is a very easy walk over to town. Elizabeth City was founded in 1793, the same year construction started on the Dismal Swamp Canal, which was a key to safe commercial water passage between the Chesapeake Bay’s Elizabeth River in Norfolk, VA, and North Carolina coastal waters. Elizabeth City is rich in history, filled with fun and excellent places to eat or “dine”, and it is home to the Museum of the Albemarle. We could fill pages on this delightful town, check it out here: https://visitelizabethcity.com/ ENJOY.
Then on to the Dismal Swamp Canal as you continue your cruise towards Chesapeake Bay. The *Dismal Swamp Welcome Center” is one of North Carolina’s most beautiful “rest stops” and it is next to a “SWAMP”. But not your ordinary swamp!
As mentioned briefly above, the Dismal Swamp Canal is a national treasure, and so very worth the trip. Explore the rich history and colorful past as well as the floral beauty and wildlife. Take the ranger led tours, participate in the interpretive programs, and let the secrets of the Dismal Swamp Canal awaken you to a new experience. Here’s the link to their website: https://dismalswampwelcomecenter.com/
Be sure to take full advantage of all the special offers available through the Albemarle Loop group of marine businesses to enhance your cruise and save you some money. Website address: https://www.albemarleloop.com
We wish all fair winds and gentle seas.
Editor’s note: Several of the marinas on the Loop route are Cruisers’ Net Sponsors and this FOCUS ON article is brought to you by the following CRUISERS’ NET SPONSORS:
The Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center Docks and information are provided at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, an NC DOT Rest Area facility and A CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, located adjacent to the Dismal Swamp State Park, offering trails, exhibits and ongoing programs in Camden County, NC.
NC has one of the country’s most beautiful rest stops – and it’s next to a swamp
The welcome center also serves as a gateway to Dismal Swamp State Park, just across the canal, a 22-mile stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway that connects the Elizabeth River in Virginia with the Pasquotank River near Elizabeth City.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY by Richard Stradling of the Raleigh News and Observer