Sunday, May 06, 2007

Voices Past

Thursday, May 3rd. Elizabeth City. Captain’s Reprieve. We slept in and spent the morning provisioning and visiting with other transients comparing notes on journeys north. Several older cruisers were on their first and sometimes second turn of the “great circle route.” This is a seven or eight thousand mile trip up the ICW, Hudson River, Erie Canal, to the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, and around Florida to start all over again. Sailors can follow the seasons and enjoy year-round travel. We could have listened all day, but by late morning it was time to push off and continue a small segment of that route ourselves.

To journey through the Dismal Swamp is to take a trip back in time. The low drone of the diesel blends with the boat’s bubbling wake to create a hypnotic trance. In the early morning, swirls of mist curl beneath overhanging tree boughs as if rising from witch’s cauldrons just beneath the surface. As we passed, each of our crew perched on the deck in solitude and gazed at the symmetry of the canal that extended in perfect perspective into the horizon. A heron hop scotched ahead of us for a period as if our shepherd. Both your eyes and ears can play tricks on you. As I stared – Were those the ghostly voices of travelers past I heard floating through the trees?