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Lake Vänern


This is a brief summary of the places we believe are worth a stop along the Gota Canal. This page deals with the Western Gota, from Karslborg to Sjotorp

Lake Vänern
Lacko Slot Lake Vanern

Lake Vänern is Sweden's largest inland sea, and the third largest lake in Europe. About 80 miles long and 43 miles wide, it is a significant cruising area in itself, with numerous guest harbours and natural harbours. The whole area is known as Vänerland

The cut across Vänern from the Gota Canal at Sjötorp to the Trollhattan Canal at Vänersborg is about 65 miles, but many people go via the Ekens Archipelago, a delightful maze of islands about half way across the lake. We also stopped at Mariestad, a sizeable town on the Southern shore.

The Eckens archipelago is shallow and needs careful navigation, but it breaks the journey across the lake, and has some excellent anchorages. At its western end is the Castle at Läckö, with its associated marina. The marina has a tricky entrance and only about 1.6 meters of water, so after a bumpy crossing in 35 knots of wind, we had to moor on the pier outside. There are little or no facilities, although there is a cafe at Läckö.

Another potential overnight stop is at Dälbergsa, on Vänern's Western shore. Entry is easy and it is only about 20 miles south from there to Vänersborg.

Slightly north of Ekens is the Lurö archepelago. We didn't visit this but it is reputed to be stunning. The northen half of the lake also has its attractions, including the major town of Karlstad, and the Arviken, or Viking Way. This is a 40 mile stretch of interconnected lakes (Max Height 16m).

Mariestad
The Old Town The Harbour - looking out to sea

About 10 miles south of the Gota exit at Sjötorp lies the town of Mariestad. Reaching it entails going under an 18 meter fixed bridge (know your mast height) and a winding, bouyed channel. The result however is worth it.

Mariestad is an ideal crew change location as it is a short bus ride from the main line at Skövde, which has direct trains to Stockholm or Gothenburg and then via Ryanair to the UK. (You can get a regional ticket for about £20 which will get you all the way to Gothenburg City airport).

Mariestad town centre, which has a market on weekdays, is another 60s Swedish concrete jungle, but the tree lined roads leading up to the centre soften it considerably, and the old town, with its cathedral, is enchanting. Twice a day, the Cathedral clock chimes 'Abide with Me'

The guest marina is at the extreme head of the harbour (stern bouys), close to the helpful tourist office, and is perfectly sheltered. There is alongside mooring for really big boats.

There are a few reasonable resturants. The Thai resturant opposite the Bus Station is very good, and the harbour cafe next to the Tourist Bureau is not bad.

Useful resources

North Sea Passage Pilot by Brian Navin The essential

Vanern Natural Harbours Map
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