Germany, Austria, Switzerland: Lake Constance

Boating adventures across open borders

insel Mainau Panorama - Foto: © Achim Mende / Internationale Bodensee Tourismus GmbH
Lake Constance has been an inland boating Mecca for decades. In fine summer weather you are sailing with southerly winds in the morning. Until noon a thermal wind from the west develops, starting at the eastern shore. Regarding gradient winds weather fronts comming in from the south west and foehn conditions have to be observed since both can result in quite tricky, gusty wind situations. More rarely there is wind from the north which often continues to blow in a three-day-pattern (three, six or nine days).
Beware of thunderstorms
There is a lot of racing activity on the Lake during summer months, as for example the famous Round the Lake Race with big numbers of competitors, and average winds are perfect for sailing with around four Bft. But thunderstorms can be tricky and even dangerous on Lake Constance. They occur suddenly with great force and a big and steep wave tends to built up on the lake that can be rather dangerous for smaller boats. An early warning system is in place around the lake, but as with all weather warnings it would be too easy to rely simply on this.
Foto: Hafeneinfahrt Lindau
Lake Constance Skipper's Patent and holiday licenses
There is a special licence requirement for sport skippers on Lake Constance which is due to the fact that three countries border on the lake: You require Lake Constance License Class D for all boats with mor than 12 sqm sail area and in addition Class A for boats witrh engines of more than 4.4 KW. Sailing boats without engine or of up to 2.5 m in length and less than 12 sqm sail area may be sailed without license and need not be registered. All boating on the lake is regulated by the Lake Constance Shipping Regulations, which, for example, grants special rights to passenger shipping and fishing boats on the lake. Holiday boaters with other official licenses from Germany, Austria or Switzerland, as for example the general Sport Skipper's License, can apply for a limited (one month) holiday license for Lake Constance.
Canoing and diving on the Swabian Sea
Although motorboats are allowed on Lake Constance, the lake primarily belongs to the silent boating and watersports activities. Canoes are an alternative to sailing when you want to glide leisurely across the lake. Several rental stations around the lake even offer "one-way-deals" or guided adventure tours. The best spot for kayakers is the Lower Lake. The holiday towns of the region offer a set of different tours with good infrastructure under the title "water trails" - for example from Allensbach to the island of Reichenau. And last but not least, Lake Constance is a hot spot for divers as well: wrecks, cliffs and bizarre rock formations lure you to the dark depths of the lake.
Environmental regulations for Lake Constance
Boats with engine, cooking or sanitary facilities need authorization on Lake Constance. A number of environmental regulations apply. For example, black water has to be contained in holding tanks on board and be disposed of in marinas. After all, the lake is the drinking water supply for the whole of County Baden-Würtemberg. All holiday registrations of boats require full compliance with the regulations.
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