The Great Dismal Swamp

We started our journey south on the Intercostal Waterway by making the choice to take either the Great Dismal Swamp or the Virginia Cut route. We choose the SWAMP! Who doesn’t want to see what the Great Dismal Swamp looks like?

It’s actually a canal that was built between 1793 and 1805 and was used to harvest and transport timber. The canal is now the oldest artificial operating waterway in the US. The area surrounding the canal is the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The Swamp is over 112,000 acres and home to black bears, bobcats, otters, and weasels along with over 70 species of reptiles and amphibians! We of course saw none of these… Mar-a-Largo had seen a bear cub on their trip two years ago and we consistantly scanned the shoreline looking for some sign of the wildlife in the park.

The Dismal Swamp route is not for everyone, if your boat has a deep draft, you may run into some trouble – literally… We draw 5.5 feet and some places in the canal our depth sounder was showing 4 feet!! We did not hit bottom (that we know of) but you also have to be aware of deadheads floating in the canal, sometimes just below the surface and impossible to see. Mar-a-Largo and Mighty Fine were ahead of us and would radio back when they either saw or hit something in the water. We were lucky and our hull never found a deadhead!


Mar-a-Largo in the morning mist.


Mighty Fine in morning fog.


A line up of boats moving south on the Dismal Swamp.


Mar-a-Largo waits for a bridge opening.


Donna on Mighty Fine.


Our last lock – exiting the Dismal Swamp.


Fall colours reflected in the canal water.


from left to right.. Mar-a-Largo, Grace V, Mighty Fine rafted together for a night at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center


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