January 28, 2021. Recently, in an email exchange with a fellow cruiser on Instagram, I learned that Robert Peek, the lockmaster of the Deep Creek lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal had unexpectedly passed away on October 1, 2020. His obituary appeared in the October 4, 2020 Virginian – Pilot. Robert’s passing was a loss to family, friends, and the boating community that cruises the historic and beautiful Dismal Swamp Canal and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Robert never met a stranger. Thanks to his expansive collection of conch shells, he was affectionately known to cruisers as “the conch man.” His collection lined the walkways outside the lock office. He told me that numerous cruisers passing through the lock had brought him shells they had picked up especially for him during their travels. If you were lucky, he would play you a tune on one of his many shells. Tributes written to Robert appear on the Great Harbour Trawlers, website and in the Waterway Guide.
To his family, friends, and fellow lockmasters, we offer our prayers and deepest sympathy. Robert was a good person that made cruisers through the lock feel welcome and appreciated. May he Rest In Peace.
When the golden sun is setting
And the earth no more you trod
May your name in gold be written
By the sacred hand of God.
Oh Captain My Captain