Maintained by Norfolk District, the Dismal Swamp Canal and Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal form alternative routes along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway between the Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound. These two canals are part of the greater Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which stretches from Norfolk, Virginia, to Miami and offers recreational boaters and commercial shippers a protected inland channel.
Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal
Boaters drafting deeper than 6 feet can utilize the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, which is maintained to a depth of 12 feet.
Great Bridge Lock in Chesapeake, Virginia, has an operating staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It opens every hour on the hour 365 days a year. Boaters should note the city of Chesapeake’s Great Bridge Bridge, located adjacent to the lock, opens every hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on demand afterward. The schedule is subject to change during adverse weather conditions. Great Bridge Lock operators can be reached at 757-547-3311 or Marine Radio Channel 13.
North Landing Bridge also opens every half-hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on demand at all times for commercial traffic and after hours. Bridge operators can be reached at 757-482-3081 or Marine Radio Channel 13.
Dismal Swamp Canal
The locks are operated at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. seven days a week. The drawbridges adjacent to these locations will operate as normal and in conjunction with the lock openings. Vessels are allowed to moor overnight in the canal. There will only be one operator each at Deep Creek and South Mills, so the bridge will not be manned when the lock is being operated, and vice versa. Locks and bridges monitor Channel 13.
The latest surveys of AIWW-Deep Creek, AIWW-Dismal Swamp Canal and AIWW-Turners Cut are available at www.nao.usace.army.mil/HydroSurveys/. Boaters are advised to review these surveys and the following conditions:
- AIWW-Deep Creek Channel north of the Deep Creek Lock currently has a controlling depth of 5.5 MLLW at centerline.
- AIWW-Dismal Swamp Canal currently has a controlling depth of 6 feet at centerline and 50 feet wide except at The Big Entry Ditch (MM #13) and the Feeder Ditch (MM #22) where the width narrows to approximately 25 feet wide. These shoaled areas have been marked with green and red stakes to show the channel. Due to the narrow channel, only one vessel can pass in these two areas of the canal at a time.
- AIWW-Turners Cut Channel just south of the South Mills Lock currently has a controlling depth of 5.9 feet at center line and 80 feet wide. A remaining shoal south of Joyce Creek has been marked with green and red stakes to show the channel where the canal narrows to approximately 40 feet wide. Due to the narrow channel, only one vessel can pass in this area of the Turners Cut at a time.
- Duckweed is currently heavy in the Dismal Swamp Canal. Boaters should clean their strainers as needed. The Lake Drummond Reservation is still open to visitors using canoes and kayaks, the boat tram is still inoperative.
- Norfolk District Corps of Engineers crane barge will continue working in the canal until the first week in November removing shoals along the toe of the canal. Additional dredging is being scheduled for this winter in the Deep Creek Channel and early next spring in the Dismal Swamp Canal.
Those planning to use this route are advised to refer to the Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners, contact the lock operator or call the Norfolk District office at (757) 633-5749.