A popular misconception is that the Gota Canal stretches from Stockholm on the east coast, all the way to Gothenburg
on the West. In fact, the 150 miles and 58 locks of the canal take you from Mem, about 150 miles south of Stockholm, to Sjoberg,
on Lake Vanern. It is Swedens premier leisure waterway.
The canal itself is really a series of man made links between some exceptionally beautiful natural lakes. Some
of these lakes are of a considerable size, and worth visiting in their own right.
You can traverse the canal in as little as 5 days, if you must. Far better is to make a leisurely journey of
it, visiting the pictuesque locations along the way. Most people take about 8 days.
The canal itself is open from May through to late September, and during the high season (June to mid-August)
is operated 'on demand' by professional lockeepers. Outside of the high season yachts travel in convoy, once a day. Charges
are determined by boat size and the number of locks traversed. The entire canal cost us about £350, but that includes up to seven
nights berthing at each of 18 marinas, with their attendant facilities. All the latest prices and info are on the Gota
Canal website. When you pay, you receive a plastic 'Gota Card' which provides access to all the marina facilities en-route,
as well as providing some 'special offers'
The canal makes a big thing about their 'locking-up' procedure, using a long rope on the bow. In practice, this
is a good thing, but anyone used to locks will find the system a doodle. Most locks are about 3 meters deep, and big enough for
about 4 yachts. There are a few pleasure steamers which have right of way at locks.
There are 18 marinas of varying facilities en-route. There are also loads of places to visit on the lakes if
you can spare the time. We travelled westwards, from Mem to Sjotorp, and the following pages fill in details of our journey and
the places we stopped. You can also jump direct to a location using the menu above.