Dismal Swamp Canal 3

Fellow sailors and power boaters, to whom we had talked about our plans, had been full of encouraging stories: torn rudders, bent props, snags, whole trees in the middle of the channel, submerged logs, the risk of running aground steadily. Adding to that, they had talked about snakes, hiding in tree branches, huge and incredibly venomous spiders, myriads of moskitoes carrying West Nile, and so on...... Well, there were a lot of snags and logs and half submerged trees. We had to be very careful, but still got a few heavy bumps of whatever. After passing South Mills Lock, we decided to stay at the dock of the NC Visitor Center, where consequently we were being eaten alive by the worst of gnats, no see ums and all jaws we encountered after the mangrove swamps of Puerto Rico. But, we didnīt catch West Nile, the snakes had an appointment somewhere else, and we loved it. Peace, quiet and an incredible diversity of plants and birds were more than compensation. Turtles and herons were our constant followers, accompanied by the music of countless invisible birds and insects. What an experience.

Lake Drummond Hotel

"Two more stories. Wanna listen?" "Sure." "Well, the water. Our water is dark brown, not because itīs dirty, but because of the tannin, that comes from decaying cypress and juniper. They are adding acid to the water, so that no algae or bacteriae can survive in it. For decades the Navy wanted water from Lake Drummond, a lake in the centre of the Dismal Swamp, also feeding our canal, for their expeditions, simply because it doesnīt become brackish. The water tastes sour and bitter, but it is the purest water you can get. Last story, ok? At about two thirds of the canal, you have the border between North Carolina and Virginia. This was the historic site of the "Lake Drummond Hotel", also called at the time "Halfway Hotel". In the nineteenth century there were two reasons to make this place fashionable: First: The marriage laws of NC were much more liberal than those of Virginia. A lot of couples, who just couldnīt await it, came over to just get a quick uncomplicated ceremony. Second: Duels, very popular at the time, but also forbidden by law, were easy here: you just step over the border and shoot your enemy in the other state and nobody can prosecute you. Remember, they didnīt have the FBI. There is no more hotel today, itīs buried beneath the Interstate 17. Ok, thatīs enough for you. Iīm gonna open the gates." We start our engine and through the open gates of the lock, we sail straight into the jungle. Bobīs waiving: "Have a safe one and Godspeed." "God bless you." We shout back.

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