News & Events for Chesapeake Bay

Daily Advance covers Sail to the Sun Rally visit

Date Posted: 2015-10-27
Source: The Daily Advance

Reporter Cindy Beamon and photographer Thomas J. Turney of the Daily Advance newspaper documented the surge of boaters at the Dismal Swamp Canal Visitors Center last Thursday – the afternoon the "Sail to the Sun ICW Rally" cruised in for a fun evening reception and rest. Thank you, Daily Advance, for giving us permission to post the article and photos online. 

Sail-Sun-Dismal-Swamp.jpg

Docks full as boaters trek south

By Cindy Beamon, Daily Advance Staff Writer Friday, October 23, 2015

SOUTH MILLS — A surge of boaters filled docks at the Dismal Swamp and Mariners’ Wharf this week on their seasonal journey south to warmer climes.

One group led by Wally Moran, cruising editor for the “Waterway Guide” magazine, tethered boats five abreast at the dock at the Dismal Swamp Visitors Center Thursday before heading to Elizabeth City on Friday.

More than 15 vessels, mostly classic sailboats, one trawler and one Catamaran stretched the length and almost the width of the Dismal Swamp canal during their overnight stay.

Wally-DismalThe group of mostly newcomers to the Dismal Swamp Canal started their 1,090-mile “Sail to the Sun Rally” from Virginia to Miami via the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway earlier in the week. They had plans to stop in Elizabeth City for a tour of the Elizabeth II and a Rose Buddies reception before heading to Albemarle Plantation and points beyond.

Another group led by chartway guides with “Sail Magazine” was scheduled to make the same stops on Saturday.

The groups joined other boaters heading south in their annual migration south. Moran said an estimated 15,000 boats make the north-south journey each year although not all choose the alternative route through the Dismal Swamp.

Moran said the boats passed through the canal without any major problems. Some engines overheated after sucking up leaves, but the boaters only had to clean out their strainers to get going again, he noted.

One couple said their ride “was a little hair-raising.” They were aboard a 44-foot sailboat in water only six-and-a-half feet deep in some places.

Greg and Sylvia Boehmer from Virginia said their boat bumped logs on the bottom of the canal in the shallow spots.

Walkers.jpgDespite some tense moments, Sylvia said the ride through the canal was beautiful.

“It’s great to read about it, and then do it. It’s a piece of history,” said Greg.

Like the Boehmers, Mary and Jim Walker, along with their black-and-white, curly haired Portuguese water dog, are traveling the Dismal Swamp Canal for the first time. The Walkers’ trip aboard their 36-foot trawler was on Mary’s bucket list after retiring a few years ago. She had cooked and frozen 30 meals ahead of time to prepare for the six-month journey,

Rus Borman aboard his 36-foot sailboat named Frui Vita, Latin for “enjoy life,” was sailing his boat alone but said sailing with a group opened the chance to make some new friends.

Moran said boaters have bonded on journeys he’s led in the past.

“They are eager to learn, and they are eager to share. They are here to have a good time in a good way,” said Moran.

Besides the social benefits, traveling in a group is also safer, he said.

The journey ahead will pose different challenges along the way, Moran noted.

Boaters had to dodge floating logs and avoid getting tangled in the trees along the Dismal Swamp Canal, he noted. Shoaling and strong currents farther south will be among the other challenges ahead on the ICW, he said.

©2015 Daily Advance

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