Refreshing zephyrs glide off freshwater lochs and onto SkipperBud's, an all-purpose marina on the shores of Lake Mendota. New and used boats from high-end brands such as Starcraft and Sea Ray bob beside the sprawling facilities, where savvy salespeople bring decades of know-how to the 40-year-old company. Engine parts, safety tackle, and watersports equipment are also on hand, as are adept boat mechanics trained to tinker on most boat models and engine types. Indoor storage facilities fend off the icy barks of Old Man Winter, and, in the summer, make for easy access to Lake Mendota's launch points.
Size is no object at SkipperBud's, where all forms of aquatic fun line their shelves, from water-wings on up to yachts. Though the shop doesn't actually line the walls with multi-ton vessels, it does store smaller recreational vehicles in dry stack, pulling entire boats off high shelves with an enormous, specially outfitted forklift. Inside the store proper, staff keeps neat displays of more conventionally-sized gear, including watersporting apparel such as skis and life vests to boating accessories, such as anchors and bumper stickers to slap on the bottom of a ship's hull that say, "If you can read this, you are a really smart fish."
To keep boaters covered in the office, SkipperBud's deals in a variety of storage and maintenance packages. They shield private vessels from the elements during winter months in vast warehouses, and perform tune-ups and major repairs to engines and fiberglass hulls.
Situated on Bangs Lake, Wauconda Boat is a full-service marina with certified and master technicians on staff. In addition to renting out paddleboards, kayaks, and pontoon boats, Wauconda Boat can also supply boat motors, parts, and mermaid repellent.
SailTime Chicago is the local franchise of SailTime, a fast growing worldwide boating company. We provide our members access to cruising class sail and power boats. The best way to say it: we have fun.
Gliding across Lake Michigan, the sailing party watches the sun sink beneath the Chicago skyline. As the last rays fade from view, the city's skyscrapers throw their light onto the lake's surface. The captain steers the ship past Grant Park and Millennium Park, and then veers out toward Navy Pier, where the ship's passengers find a prime viewing spot for the Saturday-night fireworks show.
In addition to charters like these, the captains of Go Sailing Chicago—all holding US Coast Guard Master Captain licenses and certifications from the American Sailing Association and US Sailing—furnish beginner through advanced sailors with sailing gloves and life jackets before leading hands-on instruction in proper seamanship. Launching from DuSable and Monroe Harbor, and sometimes other points along the lakeshore, Go Sailing Chicago's four-boat fleet meets or exceeds the safety standards set down by the USCG and the most persnickety of ship-in-a-bottle builders.
In 1935, Albert Borgstrom, a Swedish immigrant and carpenter by trade, set about constructing a 65-foot wooden yacht. He named the ship The Wendella and charged visitors $0.25 to ride through the city and listen to a guide expound on the sights. This simple vessel ended up being a steppingstone, and 75 years later, guests still ride along, now craning their heads back at the jagged opalescent silhouette of Trump Tower and the beehive curves of Marina City. Beneath the evolving skyline, the fleet has expanded to six vessels, which are now run by Albert's grandson, Michael Borgstrom. Wendella staffs a dedicated, in-house education department to keep the city's history alive and make sure that people continue to believe in water so it doesn’t disappear. On special excursions, the crew stocks the boats with wine for tastings beneath the stars or points the vessel through the verdigris waters of the lake to watch evening fireworks shows.