I have been lucky enough to spend the last few months boating on Lake Geneva and recently back from a weel on Lake Como, so i thought i would share some of the lessons learnt that may be of help if you plan to visit these lakes in the future.
1. there are lots of nightmare stories taking a boat into Switzerland but ignore them. As long as you have your UK/ International papers at hand you will be okay. the border guards at Geneva will jump up and down asking where your swiss papers are for the boat but if you just say you have UK papers and insurance they will look angry and then wave you into the country. On the Italian border side, they will just wave you in.
2. places to launch a large' ish rib are limited. Bouvert (Port Valais) ((bottom right of the lake a few km from the French border)) is easily the best and easiest place. The slip is in good condition and free. On the outskirts of town, there are large car parks to keep car and trailer, and its only a 10minute walk back to the marina. there are other slips around the north of the lake but they are designed for sibs and are tiny and v difficult to get to through tiny villages.
3. One really important note when on the lake. Up to 300m from shore the speed limit is 10km and you cannot tow water skiers or anything else. The french and swiss patrol the 300m line and anyone going fast on the shore side of them gets heavily fined. Be warned.
4. the lake water is really nice and clean and swimming is fantastic.
5. water skiing and the like are allowed, just do it away from shore.
6. I prefer the southern side of the lake (french side) less built up and there is a great medeval village at Yvoire.
7. Don't bother going into the marinas, just drop anchor outside and then you can spend the day swimming off the boat.
1. i drove over the Grand St Bernard pass into Italy from Switzerland. Its a good road, although steep in places as might be expected.
2. I headed to Domaso at the North of the Lake. There is a nice marina there
Nautical center on Lake Como, Marina, Dry storage boats
if you cannot launch the boat on the trailer becasue the water level is down (they use the lake water for irrigation) then a lift is Euro 100 each way (my boat anyway). keeping car and trailer in the yard is Euro 20 per night and a mooring for the boat is Euro 30. I camped on the boat (5 of us) so it was good value.
- Always drive east about the lake. The roads on the west side are tiny and if the local buses pass you at crazy Italian driving speeds you wont arrive with a boat on your trailer. I always try and do the trailer drives at night if possible just becasue of the traffic.
3. Domaso is a great place to windsurf / kite etc. winds pick up aroud lunch time to 4pm. Very safe and a good place for beginners.
4. i found some swing moorings on the inside of Isola Comacina (opposite from Ballagio) they are free and secure and we stayed there for 4 nights. well protected and FREE. Best site on the whole lake.
5. Bellagio is overrated and geared up for tourists. Worst food i have ever had in Italy. Pizzas out of a packet. WTF.
6. Como iteself is a complete dump and best avoided.
7. Always fill up your tanks at a garage before launching. Fuel on the lake is a complete rip off and they charge Euro1 per litre above pump prices. Worse than buying a lunch in Venice. Pirates.
8. Lake Como is a nice place to visit if you can launch your boat and then stay on it for 8 days. best views of all the grande lake houses. we slept cooked on board and just swam ashore for coffee and exploring.
1. I am a newbie to lake/freshwater boating but now am a complete convert. boating on lakes on Europe is absolutely brilliant, no saltwater, no tides and swell to drag your anchor, views are incredible. if you get a chance - go for it. getting the boat onto the lakes is sometime difficult due to lack of slip ways etc. Italians love ribs with big engines but the swiss hate them so choose your locations carefully.
2. i am new to trailering my boat around but have already covered a few 1000km's. You soon get over the whole reversing 'thing' and pick everything up quickly. My rib is 9m and 2.5t, so its a big lump to drag around, and after 6 weeks i am quite happy taking it most places. Dont be put off by trailering. ps get a good jack and impact drill so you can repair a blowout, even when your boat is on the trailer. I was completly unprepared on the first blow out.
i will be trailering the boat down the italian coast in October half term to explore the island of Elba on the rib for a week so will share the lessons learnt from that trip.
some photos of slip ways and mooring buoys attached.