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Old 28-11-2017, 19:39   #1
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Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

May be relocating to the Chicago area. What can anyone share of sailing life there (Great Lakes I know but...). What about marina life liveaboards (any or does everyone have to haulout for winter weather? Other input of what I'd be in for?

Thanks...
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Old 28-11-2017, 20:34   #2
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Re: Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

There is a great sailing culture here but the season is pretty short. Living aboard is all but impossible year round. There is one very small place on the river (no scheduled bridge lifts after season so you'd be stuck if you had mast up) that has limited year-round accommodations using extensive bubblers in the winter but I believe it is nigh impossible to get a spot there. I think you need to own property in the attached high-rise condo.

Most all of the city harbors close October 31, but you can get a late-leaver extension at one of the harbors here for a couple more weeks. Not many folks take advantage of this but a few hearty souls. The weather is getting pretty rough once October rolls around. November is pretty brisk. Nearly all of the boats lost off of moorings during storms are during the last few weeks of the season. We loose a few every year. Last year a boat just a couple of cans over from us broke free and broke up on the wall against the lake shore bike path. It wasn't the only one lost in our harbor last year either.

Getting a slip downtown probably isn't going to happen the first year and you'd have to go with a mooring. Getting a slip further north or in 31st street down south is maybe easier but prices are dear. 31st is in bufu so they always have spots. Not great access and once they start storing boats onsite boater lose parking access. Daft...

There are always moorings available in Monroe Harbor right downtown. Some are pretty exposed though. Protection from waves coming in from the SE is horrible and it gets pretty uncomfortable when that happens. It gets so bad that sometimes the tenders can't make it out to the boats, or they need to move their launch area to a different spot when their regular tender dock is too dangerous to operate out of. It gets that bad quite a few times in the autumn, maybe once or twice a week at the end.

Action starts again in May although a lot of folks wait until June because it is fairly chilly and sporty in the spring.

We lived aboard in Monroe Harbor on a mooring can the last two summer as much as we could. 5-6 nights a week. There is a tender service included in the mooring permit but the hours are not the greatest in the morning if you work early or anywhere that will take a longer commute from the downtown. You must pay a couple hundred dollars extra to use your own dingy and there really is nothing as far as accommodations or security. Your dink will get vandalized and probably stolen at least once a season but usually they find them when the thieves are done joy-riding.

I know of only one guy who attempts to use his own dinghy regularly in the downtown harbor and he's had to go searching for his boat a few times. It's just a cheap plastic WestMarine tender and looks like it went through a war.

There is a large racing community with regular races on the weekends and on Wednesday nights. If that is what you are into there is plenty here. I'm not into it so can't help you there.

It's an exciting place to sail because there are many neat features, Navy Pier, the river locks, lifting bridges, the outer seawalls, the lighthouse, the many harbors and even a few big water utility buildings (cribs) a few miles offshore along the lake to go out and sail around. Plus there is a lot of traffic here with all the sailboats, race boats, motor boats, cruise ships, dinner cruises, water taxis, speed boat rides, and even a tall ship to share the water with. You'll get more comfortable sailing nearby hundreds of other boats nearby after a while.

Winter storage is a big thing here and there are many places that do it. The water freezes up pretty hard most places, or has the potential to, so not many boats stay in the water except some of the big guys. There is some limited wet storage here and there, usually for wooden boats that don't want to haul I have been told. There are a couple at the place I'm at this year on the river. This time of year I don't even go down to the lake as it's too cold and depressing, but I'm at my boat on the hard almost every day getting it ready for leaving Chicago for good this coming spring.
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Old 29-11-2017, 07:42   #3
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Re: Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

Thanks so much BlackHeron for the thorough and helpful input. That's about what I was expecting to hear (though didn't know for sure) but not what I wanted to hear regarding the season and haulout. I've been in Dallas for 20+years and can sail year round on Lake Texoma (though I don't in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb due to the cold) but I do visit and stay weeekends on the boat year round. If the relocation goes through it will take some adjusting on my part but the location/broadened experiences will I'm sure enhance my skills.
I too have a goal of sailing full time someday in the Keys, Gulf Coast, Caribbean but that's 2-5 years out. I understand you can sail from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic down the coast to Florida and the Caribbean. I imagine that's your goal...good luck to you and thanks again.
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Old 29-11-2017, 19:47   #4
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Re: Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

If you are a non-boatowner still there are many good places to sail and/or race here as crew. If we weren't leaving next year to liveaboard and explore full-time we'd not own our own boat and would simply sail with a club. That's way cheaper. I was sailing for basically free nearly every day working with a sailing school before I bought our boat.
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Old 29-11-2017, 19:57   #5
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Re: Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

Heron gave you good input. However, there's no real cruising on the West side of LM until you get to Sturgeon Bay and very few anchoring possibilities. The season, for most, is June through September but if you're a hearty soul with good cold weather gear and don't have a problem sailing in 40 degree water and 40-50 degree temps, you can sail from April 15 to October 15th. I grew up sailing on the Lake and it does have its beautiful moments. And, at times, you'll be the only boat on the lake. It's what you make it that counts. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 29-11-2017, 20:18   #6
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Re: Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
Heron gave you good input. However, there's no real cruising on the West side of LM until you get to Sturgeon Bay and very few anchoring possibilities. The season, for most, is June through September but if you're a hearty soul with good cold weather gear and don't have a problem sailing in 40 degree water and 40-50 degree temps, you can sail from April 15 to October 15th. I grew up sailing on the Lake and it does have its beautiful moments. And, at times, you'll be the only boat on the lake. It's what you make it that counts. Good luck and safe sailing.
Yes, there really are no good places to anchor out. The weather and lake conditions can be treacherous and there is little to nothing in the way of sheltered harbors here in the southern part of the lake within a day or two sail. We would marina hop when we traveled the past couple of seasons with our boat. Lots of folks cross the lake and stay over in a marina in Michigan for a day or more before crossing back. We liked doing that because we wanted to get more time doing longer passages. The other option is to hop up and down the coast with short or even longer hops. But for the most part you are going to be getting transient dockage at some marina, not finding nice secluded places to anchor for free on your own. There is just nothing like that to be had nearby. What little there is will not be sufficiently protected if any weather kicks up.
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Old 30-11-2017, 06:23   #7
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Re: Chicago Sailing, Marinas, Liveaboard?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, CapnSantiago.
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