Dismal Swamp Canal
Boats We See On The Waterway
and our favorite site:
Fishing boats rafted for the evening.
A paddlewheeler tour boat repositiong for the next season.
Hand feeding gulls in New Jersey.
Crab traps on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
Hello, my intention is to pique your curiosity, awaken your spirit of adventure, and lift the veil of the unknown to reveal the treasure of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW, or more commonly ICW).
The best part of the ICW? No desk, no corporate buzz words, and being able to claim "oh,sorry, I had no cellphone service."
I don't remember when I first heard the term ICW and I don't remember when I learned it was the Intracoastal Waterway. But I do remember the lure of the unknown and the mystery and the romance of travelling by water. It brought out the gypsy in me.
Still, it was a mystery. A great unknown. My opportunity came while taking a summertime pleasure cruise through the Dismal Swamp Canal. Random conversation with the captain revealed the little tour boat went south each winter for maintainance. Looking around at the highschool-aged crew, I surmised they would be back in school by then and so I spontaneously invited myself to be volunteer crew on the repositioning cruise. It can't hurt to take time and hang around your nearest waterfront, engaging in chit-chat.
So here is the low-down on the ICW:
The ICW is a system of natural rivers, bays, and manmade canals developed so commercial traffic can navigate the eastern seaboard without going "outside" (into the ocean). Often referred to as "the ditch", it allows inside passage from Manasquan, NJ, to the Florida keys.
Brown water sailors prefer the ditch with its protected waters and ever-changing scenery. Blue water sailors like to tough it by "going outside" and battling wind and waves while they enjoy the endless view of blue-grays.
If your goal is to get from where you are to where you want to be, then drive or fly. But, if you like seeing nature, changing seasons, and the array of contrasts from marshlands to high ground, rivers to canals, and shipyards to towns rich in history then take the ICW where you will see it all.
REMEMBER: The ICW does not need to be traversed from top to bottom in a single journey. Choose a piece and explore. Like hiking the Appalachian Trail it can be done in sections, year after year.
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