If you're going to stop at Elizabeth City, IMO the best free dock is the Jennette Brothers food service dock just north of the bridge on the west side of the river. Use it almost every time when transiting the area. It's a side tie dock in much calmer water being above the bridge. Still easy access to town. Room for 4 or 5 boats before rafting.
If going through the Dismal Swamp Canal, there are 3 free docks. From South going North they are:
The Dismal Swamp welcome center is a nice stop with a walking trail and good side tie dock. Room for 4 boats before rafting.
There is a nice dock next to restroom facilities for the park and cycling trail on the Virginia position of the canal. Room for a couple of boats before rafting.
There is a bulkhead with cleats on the South side of the bridge that precedes the Deep Creek Lock. Room for a couple of boats and easy walking distance to a Food Lion and some other stores.
I'm tired of fast moves, I've got a slow groove, on my mind.....
I want to spend some time, Not come and go in a heated rush.....
"Slow Hand" by The Pointer Sisters