Tag Archives: locks

Dismal Swamp


We made it to North Carolina, where accents are strong and teeth are optional. We decided to take the boat down the canal between Norfolk and Elizabeth City instead of going out into Currituck Sound because the weather wasn’t looking great. It ended up being a really cool trip. The leaves are all changing here and it’s completely still and deep black on the river. It was pretty weird floating along in a sailboat, though.

Because we tied up after exiting the lock to explore the town of Deep Creek (which turned out to be a single strip mall with surprisingly good Japanese food), the boats ahead of us were long gone and we had the canal to ourselves. The whole surface of the water was a black mirror, flecked only with the yellow stars of fallen maple leaves. It was unreal.

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I need to backtrack a bit, because I can’t forget the lock master. To enter the canal we had to go through a small lock to be raised up to the canal’s water level. The guy in charge wore aviators like the prison guard in Cool Hand Luke and took his job just as seriously, except instead of a pistol hanging from his belt he wore what appeared to be a child’s size large lifejacket over his men’s size large leather jacket and instead of two bloodhounds at the ready he had a 12-year-old mutt named U-Turn trailing at his heel. He told me, “His mama was fullblown pitbull, daddy was a pitbull-sharpei mix, and he was raised in a pin” (that’s pen) ” with two rabbits. And the male rabbit was the alpha outta the three. So…”

He was such a sweet guy, full of recommendations, helpful advice, and stories, and U-Turn was even sweeter. It was a funny place to have a chat but we’ll remember it for a long time.


Matt and U-Turn. New pals.



Going through the lock. IMG_596620141115_093830


So cold at sunrise. But worth being up to catch the steam rising off the river.