RoRC Report from Andrew Curtain in Sweden

RoRC Report from Andrew Curtain in Sweden

An early season mini cruise in Lake Vannern...

By Andrew Curtain - 19/07/2018

Pilgrim Soul’s winter base is on the west coast of Sweden in Martinssons Varv, a very competent yard. The season’s weather is usually good with Scandinavian anticyclones, but short from about mid-June until the end of the second week in August when the schools return. Visitors, beware of Midsummer celebrations when much is closed for days, including the Systembolaget, state alcohol stores. It is surprising that they have any stocks remaining anyway. Only the larger supermarkets are open so the advice is stock up in advance of the holiday.

A planned early cruise was to explore part of Lake Vannern. Many will know it as a major component of the 230NM trek across Sweden which includes the Gota Canal, further to the East. It is Sweden’s largest lake, and while Pilgrim Soul has extensively explored Lake Maleren near Stockholm and the huge Finnish Lake Saima, one tends to rush across the central lakes, Vannern, Vattern and the picturesque Viking to cross the country quickly. Next year, when we have more time, we plan to again use the Gota system to Stockholm and will more extensively explore the places on the way, but this year, an early plan was to see what a part of Lake Vannern had to offer.

It is important to be aware of possible boltholes in the lake as weather is changeable and conditions can at times be uncomfortable with short seas. On the route one takes across between the canal systems there is an archipelago, Ekens Skagard, where one can anchor in beautiful surroundings in settled weather. One must keep a sharp lookout because although channels are well marked, any deviation can mean hitting a rock, and the sound that makes is memorable. Although summer nights are short, I would recommend not sailing in the dark because many navigation marks are unlit and approaches to the major towns are complicated by town lights.

We passed Gothenburg motoring the 27M up the Gota Alv river to the first lock of the Trollhatte Canal. It took longer than expected because in late May the river flow against was at least 2kt. The Trollhatte Canal, which is industrial sized, does not allow yacht passage at night, so we arrived too late. No problem because there is a small jetty close to the first lock. There are 6 huge locks each with a rise of about 7m but long lines are not needed. There is little turbulence, water filling and emptying through the floor and a yacht can hold on to one of the recessed bollards in the wall, switching a loop as one rises or falls.

We first visited the town of Vanersborg at the eastern end of the Trollhatte Canal. It is a pleasant town with a small marina where one moors bow on with the stern moored to two large posts. It is essential to have lines ready to loop around the poles when entering and readers are advised to make the loops extra large for easy removal. Better still, leaving the marina to starboard, one can enter a short inlet to moor alongside in the town’s guest harbour, very close to the town centre. We were not charged. Close by is an excellent supermarket, alcohol store and chandlery. Next day, Pilgrim Soul motor sailed the 55 M to Mariestad through the Ekens Archipelago past the impressive Lacko Castle where there is a small marina. We will stop there next year.

Mariestad is well worth a stop between Vanersborg and the Gota Kanal. There is a Guest Harbour located in the southern part of the inner harbour. One can lie alongside or in a small marina. It is well equipped with showers, laundry, WiFi and fuel. The old town is delightful with 18th century buildings and cobbled streets. The cathedral, a large red building built in 1600, dominates the town.

Recommendations are to buy a Swedish modem with a prepaid SIM card. The Swedish weather service, SMHI, gives excellent forecasts for all areas. Also buy fittings for the local gas bottles. These are larger than the average Camping Gas cylinders and being aluminium are lighter and don’t rust.

The southern Lake Vattern explored, later plans are to cruise southern Sweden, maybe Poland hoping to meet present and future members. Have a good summer readers.

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