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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dismal Day in the Dismal Swamp

Finally, we are back in the water after a week on the hard. Thank heavens the weather has been great, nice and cool at night and sunny during the day. We were surprised when at 4:00pm yesterday they decided to put us in the water. 4:00 is normally quitting time and there was only one space left on the face dock at the far south end…just for us!! It is a great place for Schooner, but the crew team yelling at 5:30 am is a bit unnerving. While work was being done, we met some of the greatest boaters. We shared drinks, snacks, meals and stories with many. I hope to meet again along the waterways.

This morning, we started out early, 6:45am moving off the dock in RAIN!! The Great Bridge opens at 7am and next is the Great Bridge locks next. We wanted to get through these 2 before the restrictions for rush hour. Both were uneventful…I have the locks down pretty well now that we use the non assistant side and I can tie off at mid ship and don’t get yelled at by MR. Grumpy Pants!! What Gordon forgot was the Steel Bridge also had restrictions and we had to wait close to an hour…aarrrgggg!! A steady rain and cool temps made it pretty miserable.

Finally after clearing the Steel Bridge, the turn off for the Dismal Swamp Cut is only a short distance. This was the first time we had attempted to traverse this cut. I was excited as we were going to pass down through an historic series of bridges and locks to Elizabeth City and a new passage south. Also it was prime fall color!!!

We entered the Deep Creek lock first in line, with 8 other boats at 11:30 am. The rain had almost stopped and this made it easier to handle the boat in the lock and more comfortable too!! The lockmaster/bridge tender, Robert Peek, was friendly and very helpful, this being our first trip through. We were about an hour loading and clearing the lock and when you get everyone out of the lock, Robert has to jump in his truck and drive 3/4th a mile so he can open the bridge for everyone. Fortunately for him, they only do this 4 times a day!! We were now on our way into the historic cut first made possible by George Washington to open up better trade routes south.

Well…that didn’t last very long!!!! We were just really settling into the trip when there was this big THUNK followed by 3 more; CRUNCH, BANG, SCREECH!!! We made it all the way to the 12 mile marker.

Yep, we had hit a summered tree! And that brand new prop ws now crunched along with the rudder. We pulled to the side and let the other 7 boats pass and turned back for the bridge. I can say I have been in the Dismal Swamp Cut, but it wasn’t the most pleasant experience!! We were able to tie off to a bulkhead and wait another hour for the bridge to open before re-entering the locks for our return trip back to AYB. This was an extremely slow trip back as we could only travel at a slow 4knots and with the bridge openings we were only able to get back just before dusk…a long, wet, cold miserable dayyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Plans are to short pull us in the morning and assess the damage...more later in the saga of "Current Jumper".

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