By bike on Lake Mälaren's waters

For Claes Insulander, the position as captain of S / S Mariefred is an inspiring and responsible task. He enjoys all the beautiful places in Lake Mälaren and has a good eye for both bird life and Lake Mälaren's rich history. Bicycles are also welcome on the ship, but you must book the trip in advance.   

Photo: YAH

You are the captain of S / S Mariefred. There are many who want to come to Mariefred and cycle. How do you do that if you want to take the bike on board?

It is possible to take a bicycle on board the trips, either to Mariefred or to the two stops during the trip, ie Sandviken (northwest of Södertälje) or Enhörna-Ekensberg (on Enhörnalandet). On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays we also do extra tours between Taxinge-Näsby and Mariefred. To bring the bike, you pay in the order of 30 kronor. Travel by bike should be booked in advance.

You pass many nice places on your travels. Do you have your own favorite?

The places in Lake Mälaren are almost all beautiful and interesting. There are larger and smaller farms, when we leave Stockholm, a lot of the city passes suburbs, which from the lake look idyllic. Ekerö church shines with its white tower over deciduous trees in the cemetery. But above all, it is life and movement on the lake with other passenger boats and a number of sailboats and motorboats that capture the interest. After Ekensberg's bridge, the landscape changes. The settlement ends and you travel in what seems to be pure wilderness. Here the sea eagle nests and here is also the osprey, although these two birds of prey always get into trouble when they meet each other.

Those who like history have a lot to pick up if you travel with S / S Mariefred. Right?

That's right. After half an hour, a sound opens up and far beyond, the city of Mariefred now looms with its high church spire and the red Gripsholm castle from the 16th century. The buildings in the city have hardly changed since the beginning of the 19th century. When the boat arrives, the eastern Södermanland Railway is down by the harbor and meets with a train, which will eventually go out to Taxinge-Näsby manor, where there is a beach and café. For a shorter trip, the traveler can go to Leggesta station (with connections to Eskilstuna and Stockholm), and return to Mariefred by another train. You then get an idea of how a steam train journey could behave on a local railway in the past. 

What's the best thing about being the captain of a hundred-year-old steamship?  

Being the master of any boat is always a challenge. You should know everything about the boat and its capacity. You must know the fairway that the boat will operate in, you must know the rules of the road to avoid emergencies. All this eventually becomes routine, but never more than that every day has its events, dangers and incidents. To see them in time and take the right action is to be a captain. The boat and its passengers must never be exposed to danger. You are solely responsible for the safety of the boat and its passengers. You do this with the help of a crew who have full confidence in you and with whom you have a trusting and friendly collaboration. Under such conditions, the position of commander is a joy, a trust and an inspiring task.