What looks like a crimson-hulled pirate ship glides into view from behind Shedd Aquarium. The wind picks up, surging into the schooner's 77-foot gaff-rigged topsails and speeding the vessel along Lake Shore Drive at 10 knots. Those on shore can just make out the boat's name, Red Witch, and what appear to be passengers raising a drink to the Chicago skyline.
Docked in Burnham Harbor, the Red Witch tall ship is one three vessels in Tall Ship Adventures of Chicago's fleet. Designed by naval architect John G. Alden and named after the book Wake of the Red Witch—the same story that inspired the film starring John Wayne and Gail Russell—the Coast Guard–licensed ship accommodates up to 49 passengers within its mahogany-over-oak frame. Having sailed waters off Maui and San Diego, the boat is now under the stewardship of Captain Andrew Sadock and his crew, which leads tour cruises, coordinates charter adventures, and autographs cannonballs for each passenger.
In addition to being a current member of the American Sail Training Association, the Red Witch finished among the finalists for Best Boat/Cruise Service Provider in the 2010 Illinois Meetings + Events Readers' Choice Best of Awards.